University of California • Berkeley
EARL WARREN: THE GOVERNOR'S FAMILY
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
This manuscript is made available for research
purposes. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for
publication without the written permission of the
Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of
California at Berkeley.
Requests for permission to quote for publication
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History
Office, 486 Library, and should include identification
of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use
of the passages, and identification of the user.
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California
Earl Warren Oral History Project
Nina Palmquist Warren
Earl Warren, Jr.
Nina Warren Brien
THE GOVERNOR'S FAMILY
Notes from the California First Lady
Recollections of the Eldest Warren Son
Growing up in the Warren Family
Playing ', Hunting, Talking
Interviews Conducted by
Amelia Fry and Miriam Feingold Stein
in 1970, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978
Copy No .
Copyright Cc\ 1980 by The Regents of the University of California
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
January 16, 1991
.James C Warren
James Cleveland Warren, 71, a
prominent figure in the Ntpa Val
ley wine industry and eldest sen of
• the late Chief Justice Earl Warren,
died Monday at his St. Helena
ranch after a long illness.
Mr. Warren headed the real es
tate firm of James Warren and
Son, which specialized in vineyard
land and wineries. He was one of
the founders of Freemark Abbey
Winery and helped dozens of small
wineries get started. " .
* versity of California at Berkeley,
! where he was president of his f ra-
pternKy, Chi Piu. aneU varsity nig-
While at Harvard Business
. he enlisted in the Marine
arid served as a lieutenant in
South Pacific la World War JL
A former vice president with
Jte'-advertfemg firm of fatten.
Barton, Durstine It Qsbora. he and
to tanity had had * ranch in St.
taetade his wife,
Known for his straw cowboy
hats and folksy ads, the son of the
three-term California governor
was an ardent conservationist who
opposed commercial development,
freeways and the Napa Valley
- . -. f **r —•
Be considered his crowning
achievement to be the acquisition
of the Oak ville land that enabled
Robert Mondavi and Baron Phi
lippe de Rothschild to produce the
Opus I vintage •. • v f "-•
An Oakland native, Mr. Warren
was an honor graduate of the LJnj-
rMOPf . *^
old mother, Nina Warren of Wasn%
ington, D.C.; three cons, James of":
Lafayette, Jeffrey of St. Helena*
and John of Los Angeles; ..two
brothers, Judge Earl Warren; ;Jr. t ;
of Sacramento and Robert Warren ;
of Davis; two sisters, Virginia Dail£ •
of Chevy Chase, Md ., and Nina Bri- *
an of Beverly Hills; and nine '
-grandchildren. .. .'•
A prayer service will be held •
Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Helena
Catholic Church. Visitation -hours
at the Morrison Funeral Chapel in
SL Helena will be tomorrow from 2
, to 7p.m. . . •
The Earl Warren Oral History Project, a special project of the Regional
Oral History Office, vas inaugurated in 1969 to produce tape-recorded interviews
with persons prominent in the arenas of politics, governmental administration,
and criminal Justice during the Warren Era in California. Focusing on the years
1925-1953, the interviews were designed not only to document the life of Chief
Justice Warren but to gain new information on the social and political changes
of a state in the throes of a depression, then a war, then a postwar boom.
An effort was made to document the most significant events and trends by
interviews with key participants who spoke from diverse vantage points. Most
were queried on the one or two topics in which they were primarily involved; a
few interviewees with special continuity and breadth of experience were asked to
discuss a multiplicity of subjects. While the cut-off date of the period studied
was October 1953, Earl Warren's departure for the United States Supreme Court,
there was no attempt to end an interview perfunctorily when the narrator's account
had to go beyond that date in order to complete the v topic.
The interviews have stimulated the deposit of Warreniana in the form of
papers from friends, aides, and the opposition; government documents; old movie
newsreels; video tapes; and photographs. This Earl Warren collection is being
added to The Bancroft Library's extensive holdings on twentieth century California
politics and history.
The project has been financed by four outright grants from the National
Endowment for the Humanities , a one year grant from the California State Legis
lature through the California Heritage Preservation Commission, and by gifts from
local donors which were matched by the Endowment. Contributors include the former
law clerks of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Cortez Society, many long-time sup
porters of "the Chief," and friends and colleagues of some of the major memoirists
in the project. The Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Foundation and the San Francisco
Foundation have Jointly sponsored the Northern California Negro Political History
Series, a unit of the Earl Warren Project.
Particular thanks are due the Friends of The Bancroft Library who were
instrumental in raising local funds for matching, who served as custodian for all
such funds, and who then supplemented from their own treasury all local contribu
tions on a one-dollar-for-every -three dollars basis.
The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record autobiogra
phical interviews with persons prominent in the history of California and the
West. The Office is under the administrative supervision of James D. Hart,
Director of The Bancroft Library.
Amelia R. Fry, Director
Earl Warren Oral History Project
Willa K. Baum, Department Head
Regional Oral History Office
30 June 1976
Regional Oral History Office
^86 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
EARL WARREN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Ira M. Heyman
Lavrence A. Harper
Arthur H. Sherry
Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong *
Walton E. Bean *
Richard M. Buxbaum
William R. Dennes
Joseph P. Harris
James D. Hart
John D. Hicks *
William J. Hill
Adrian A. Kragen
Eugene C. Lee
Mary Ellen Leary
James R. Leiby
Helen R. MacGregor *
Dean E. McHenry
Sheldon H. Mes singer
Frank C. Nevman
Allan Nevins *
Warren Olney III*
Merrell F. Small
John D. Weaver
Amelia R. Fry
Joyce A. Henderson
Miriam Feingold Stein
Willa K. Baum
Male a Chall
George W. Johns
Alice G. King
James R. Leiby
* Deceased during the term of the project.
EARL WARREN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviews Completed and in Process - August 1979
Single Interview Volumes
Amerson, A. Wayne, Northern California and Its Challenges to a Negro in the
Mid-I900s, with an introduction by Henry Ziesenhenne. 1974, 103 p.
Breed, Arthur, Jr., Alameda County and the California Legislature: 1935-1958.
1977, 65 p.
Carter, Oliver J., A Leader in the California Senate and the Democratic
Party. 1979, 200 p.
Carty, Edwin L., Hunting, Politics, and the Fish and Game Commission. 1975,
Chatters, Ford, View from the Central Valley: The California Legislature,
Water , Politics, and The State Personnel Board, with an introduction by
Harold Schutt. 1976, 197 p.
Dellums, C.L., International President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car
Porters and Civil Rights Leader, with an introduction by Tarea Pittman.
1973, 159 p.
Paries, Mclntyre,' 'California Republicans, 1934-1953. 1973, 155 p.
Graves, Richard, Theoretician, Advocate, and Candidate in California State
Government. 1973, 219 p.
Huntington, Emily H. , A Career in Consumer Economics and Social Insurance,
with an introduction by Charles A. Gulick. 1971, 111 p.
Jahnsen, Oscar J., Enforcing the Lou Against Gambling, Bootlegging, Graft,
Fraud, and Subversion, 1922-1942. 1976, 212 p.
MacGregor, Helen R. , A Career in Public Service with Earl Warren, with an
introduction by Earl Warren. 1973, 249 p.
McGee, Richard Allen, Participant in the Evolution of American Corrections:
1931-1973. 1976, 223 p.
McLaughlin, Donald, Careers in Mining Geology and Management, University
Governance and Teaching, with an introduction by Charles Meyer. 1975, 318 p.
Olney, Warren III. In process.
Patterson, Edgar James, Governor's Mansion Aide to Prison Counselor, with an
introduction by Merrell F. Small. 1975, 79 p.
Pittman, Tarea, NAACP Official and Civil Rights Worker, with an introduction
by C.L. Dellums. 1974, 159 p.
Powers, Robert B., Law Enforcement, Race Relations: 1930-1960, with an
introduction by Robert W. Kenny. 1971, 180 p.
Rumford, William Byron, Legislator for Fair Employment, Fair Housing, and
Public Health, with an introduction by A. Wayne Amerson. 1973, 152 p.
Sherry, Arthur H., The Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the
California Crime Commission. 1976, 146 p.
Small, Merrell F., The Office of the Governor Under Earl Warren. 1972, 227 p.
Taylor, Paul Schuster, California Social Scientist, three volumes.
Volume I - Education, Field Research, and Family, with an introduction
by Lawrence I. Hewes. 1973, 342 p.
Volumes II and III - California Water and Agricultural Labor, with
introductions by Paul W. Gates and George M. Foster. 1975, 519 p.
Warren, Earl. In process.
Multi- Interview Volumes
BEE PERSPECTIVES OF THE WARREN ERA. 1976, 186 p.
Rodda, Richard, From the Capitol Press Room.
Phillips, Herbert L. , Perspective of a Political Reporter.
Jones, Walter P., An Editor's Long Friendship with Earl Warren.
CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS IN THE EARL WARREN ERA. 1976, 470 p.
Clifton, Florence, California Democrats, 1934-1950.
Clifton, Robert, The Democratic Party, Culbert L. Olson, and the Legislature.
Kent, Roger, A Democratic Leader Looks at the Warren Era.
Outland, George, James Roosevelt's Primary Campaign, 1950.
Post, Langdon, James Roosevelt's Northern California Campaign, 1950.
Roosevelt, James, Campaigning for Governor Against Earl Warren, 1950.
CALIFORNIA STATE FINANCE IN THE 1940s, with an introduction by Stanley Scott.
1974, 406 p.
Links, Fred, An Overview of the Department of Finance.
Groff, Ellis, Some Details of Public Revenue and Expenditure in the 1940s.
Killion, George, Observations on Culbert Olson, Earl Warren, and Money
Matters in Public Affairs.
Post, A. Alan, Watchdog on State Spending.
Leake, Paul, Statement on the Board of Equalization.
EARL WARREN AND HEALTH INSURANCE: 1943-1949. 1971, 216 p.
Lee, Russel VanArsdale, M.D., Pioneering in Prepaid Group Medicine.
Salsman, Byrl R., Shepherding Health Insurance Bills Through the California
Clay combe, Gordon, The Making of a Legislative Committee Study.
Cline, John W., M.D., California Medical Association Crusade Against
Compulsory State Health Insurance.
EARL WARREN AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HYGIENCE. 1973, 223 p.
Tallman, Frank F. , M.D., Dynamics of Change in State Mental Institutions.
Hume, Portia Bell, M.D., Mother of Community Mental Health Services.
EARL WARREN AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, with an introduction
by E.S. Rogers. 1973, 409 p.
Merrill, Malcolm H. , M.D., M.P.H., A Director Reminisces.
Stead, Frank M. , Environmental Pollution Control.
Ongerth, Henry, Recollections of the Bureau of Sanitary Engineering.
Zimmerman, Kent A., M.D. , Mental Health Concepts.
Arnstein, Lawrence, Public Health Advocates and Issues.
EARL WARREN AND THE YOUTH AUTHORITY, with an introduction by Allen F. Breed.
1972, 279 p.
Holton, Karl, Development of Juvenile Correctional Practices.
Scudder, Kenyon J. , Beginnings of Therapeutic Correctional Facilities.
Stark, Heman G. , Juvenile Correctional Services and the Community.
Beam, Kenneth S., Clergyman and Community Coordinator.
EARL WARREN AS EXECUTIVE : SOCIAL WELFARE AND STATE PARKS. 1977, 147 p.
Drury, Newton, A Conservationist Comments on Earl Warren and Harold lakes.
Schottland, Charles I., State Director of Social Welfare, 1950-54.
EARL WARREN'S BAKERSFIELD, 1971, 185 p.
Ashe, Maryann, and Ruth Smith Henley, Earl Warren's Bakers field.
Gavins , Omar , Coming of Age in Bakers fie Id.
Vaughan, Francis, Schooldays in Bakers field.
Kreiser, Ralph, A Reporter Recollects the Warren Case.
Martin, Manford and Ernest MacMillan, On Methias Warren.
EARL WARREN'S CAMPAIGNS. Three volumes.
Volume I - 1976, 324 p.
Barnes, Stanley N. , Experiences in Grass Roots Organization.
Cunningham, Thomas J., Southern California Campaign Chairman for Earl
Draper, Murray, Warren's 1946 Campaign. in Northern California.
Mailliard, William S., Earl Warren in the Governor's Office.
Mull, Archibald M. , Jr., Warren Fund-Raiser; Bar Association Leader.
McNitt, Rollin Lee, A Democrat for Warren.
Volume II - 1977, 341 p.
Knowland, William F., California. Republican Politics in the 1930s.
Feigenbaum, B. Joseph, Legislator, Partner of Jesse Steinhart, Aide to
Ladar, Samuel, Jesse Steinhart, Race Relations, and Earl Warren.
Steinhart, John, Jesse and Amy Steinhart.
Hansen, Victor, West Coast Defense During World War II; The California
Gubernatorial Campaign of 1950.
Mellon, Thomas J., Republican Campaigns of 1950 and 1952.
McCormac, Keith, The Conservative Republicans of 1952.
EARL WARREN: THE CHIEF JUSTICESHIP. 1977, 245 p.
Brownell, Herbert, Earl Warren's Appointment to the Supreme Court.
Finkelstein, Louis, Earl Warren's Inquiry into Talmudic Lou.
Hagerty, James, Earl Warren's Appointment to the Supreme Court.
Oliver, William, Working in the Supreme Court: Comments on Court, Brown
Decision, Warren and Other Justices.
Richman, Martin F. , Lou Clerk for Chief Justice Warren, 1956-1957.
Stassen, Harold, Eisenhower, the 1952 Republican Convention, and Earl
Small, Merrell F., Letter Regarding Earl Warren's Court Appointment,
November 15, 1972.
EARL WARREN: FELLOW CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS. 1979, 244 p.
Brown, Edmund G., Sr., The Governor's Lawyer.
Kenny, Robert , California Attorney General and the 1946 Gubernatorial Campaign.
Kuchel, Thomas , California State Controller.
EARL WARREN: VIEWS AND EPISODES. 1976, 250 p.
Hale, Mildred, Schools, the PTA, and the State Board of Education.
Kerr, Clark, University of California Crises: Loyalty Oath and Free
Kragen, Adrian, State and Industry Interests in Taxation, and Observations
of Earl Warren.
McConnell, Geraldine, Governor Warren, the Knowlands, and Columbia State Park.
McWilliams, Carey, California's Olson-Warren Era: Migrants and Social Welfare.
Siems, Edward H., Recollections of Masonic Brother Earl Warren.
THE GOVERNOR AND THE PUBLIC, THE PRESS, AND THE LEGISLATURE. 1973, 177 p.
Gallagher, Marguerite, Administrative Procedures in Earl Warren's Office,
Scoggins, Verne, Observations on California Affairs by Governor Earl
Warren's Press Secretary.
Vasey, Beach, Governor Warren and the Legislature.
THE GOVERNOR'S FAMILY. In process.
Warren, Earl Jr., California Politics.
Warren, James, Recollections of the Eldest Warren Son.
Warren, Nina (Honeybear) [Mrs. Stuart Brien] , Growing up in the Warren Family.
Warren, Robert, Playing, Hunting, Talking.
HUNTING AND FISHING WITH EARL WARREN. 1976, 186 p.
Cavanaugh, Hartley, A Mutual Interest -in Government, Politics* and Sports.
Lynn, Wallace, Hunting and Baseball Companion.
THE JAPANESE-AMERICAN RELOCATION REVIEWED,, with an introduction by Mike M. Masaoka.
Two volumes .
Volume I: Decision and Exodus. 1976, 196 p.
Rowe, James, The Japanese Evacuation Decision.
Heckendorf, Percy C., Planning for the Japanese Evacuation; Reforming
Regulatory Agency Procedures.
Clark, Tom, Comments on the Japanese-American Relocation.
Ennis, Edward, A Justice Department Attorney Comments on the Japanese-
Wenig, Herbert, The California Attorney General's Office, the Judge
Advocate General Corps , and Japanese- American Relocation.
Volume II: The Internment. 1974, 267 p.
Cozzens, Robert, Assistant National Director of the War Relocation Authority.
Myer, Dillon S., War Relocation Authority: The Director's Account.
Kingman, Ruth W., The Fair Play Committee and Citizen Participation.
Hibi, Hisako, paintings of the Tanforan and Topaz camps.
LABOR LEADERS VIEW THE WARREN ERA, with an introduction by George W. Johns.
1976, 126 p.
Ash, Robert S., Alameda County Labor Council During the Warren years.
Haggerty, Cornelius J., Labor, Los Angeles, and the Legislature.
LABOR LOOKS AT EARL WARREN. 1970, 145 p.
Bulcke, Germain, A Longshoreman's Observations.
Chaudet, Joseph W. , A Printer's View.
Heide, Paul, A Warehouseman's Reminiscences.
Simonds, U.S., A Carpenter's Comments.
Vernon, Ernest H., A Machinist's Recollection.
PERSPECTIVES ON THE ALAMEDA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, with an
introduction by Arthur H. Sherry. Three volumes.
Volume I - 1972, 137 p.
Mullins, John F., How Earl Warren Became District Attorney.
Balaban, Edith, Reminiscences about Nathan Harry Miller, Deputy District
Attorney, Alameda County.
Hamlin, Judge Oliver D. , Reminiscences about the Alameda County District
Attorney 's Office in the 1920s and 20s.
Shaw, Mary, Perspectives of a Newspaperwoman.
Shea, Willard W. , Recollections of Alameda County's First Public Defender.
Volume II - 1973, 322 p.
Chamberlain, Richard H., Reminiscences about the Alameda County District
Attorney 's Office.
Jester, Lloyd, Reminiscences of an Inspector in the District Attorney's
Heinrichs, Beverly, Reminiscences of a Secretary in the District Attorney's
Severin, Clarence E., Chief Clerk in the Alameda County District Attorney's
Spence, Homer R. , Attorney, Legislator, and Judge.
Daly, E.A., Alameda County Political Leader and Journalist.
Bruce, John, A Reporter Remembers Earl Warren.
Volume III - 1974, 165 p.
Coakley, J. Frank, A Career in the Alameda County District Attorney's
Hederman, Albert E., Jr., From Office Boy to Assistant District Attorney.
Jensen, Lowell, Reflections of the Alameda County District Attorney.
Oakley, James H., Early Life of a Warren Assistant.
RICHARD M. NIXON IN THE WARREN ERA. In process.
THE SHIPBOARD MURDER CASE: LABOR 3 RADICALISM, AND EARL WARREN, 2936-1941.
1976, 276 p.
Ramsay, Ernest G., Reminiscences of a Defendant in the Shipboard Murder Case.
Grossman, Aubrey, A Defense Attorney Assesses the King, Ramsay, Conner Case.
Harris, Myron, A Defense Attorney Reminisces.
Resner, Herbert, The Recollections of the Attorney for Frank Conner.
Johnson, Miriam Dinkin, The King-Ramsay-Conner Defense Committee: 1938-1942.
Odeen, Peter, Captain of the Point Lobos.
THE WARRENS: FOUR PERSONAL VIEWS. 1976, 137 p.
Albright, Horace, Earl Warren Job Hunting at the Legislature.
Stone, Irving and Jean, Earl Warren's Friend and Biographer.
Henderson, Betty Foot, Secretary to Two Warrens.
Swig, Benjamin H. , Shared Social Concerns.
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Earl Warren Oral History Project
Nina Palmquist Warren
NOTES FROM THE CALIFORNIA FIRST LADY
Copyright (c) 1980 by The Regents of The University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS - Nina Palmquist Warren
PROJECT DIRECTOR'S NOTE i
Letter from Nina E. Warren to Amelia Fry, February 13, 1979 1
Answers to Amelia Fry's Questions on Visit to Bancroft Library,
December 14, 1978 2
Warren Family Christmas Card, 1948, designed and drawn by James Warren 5
Warren Family Christmas Card, 1949 , designed and drawn by James Warren 6
PROJECT DIRECTOR'S NOTE
The following four pages represent an in-lieu interview with Nina
Palmquist Warren, a heroic effort on her part which she contributed in
spite of her deep-seated conviction that any memoir of hers could be "only
incidental" to her husband's and should not deserve separate treatment. When
she visited the Earl Warren Oral History Project on December 12, 1978, she
took time after lunch to sit between our crowded desks and, in informal (and
untaped) conversation, answer a few crucial questions about her family. These
we typed up, mailed to her with new questions, and received in return the
following typescript which is photocopied from the original.
So this is her own record, a great concession from a gentle and charming
lady who on April 13, 1976, had written us: "So far as my own life being
documented is concerned, I think that it is the Chief Justice's life in which
the public is interested, and mine would be only incidental to that... While
I appreciate your interest in having my views on these subjects, under the
circumstances, I do not think that any meaningful purpose would be served by
my consenting to an interview."
One of the fuller portayals of the first lady of California appeared
October 30, 1977, in a Sunday Sacramento Bee, Section A, by Nan Nichols.
Amelia R. Fry
31 January 1980
Hotel & iMotor Inn
SHERATON HOTELS & INNS, WORLDWIDE
2660 WOODLEY ROAD NW
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20008
February 13th, 1979.
Yesterday's mail brought your letter of
February ?th and it arrived within five days. How
ever, I don't knov; if my letter will ever get out
of Washington as we really had an unexpected snow
storm last night. Instead of 2 inches we got eight
inches, and this caused a terrible traffic tie-up
everywhere. Hundreds of cars were left stranded
and the tractors couldn't clear the main arteries
until they were towed away. Washington does not
know how to cope with snow. All the schools are
closed so the youngsters will be happy.
As promised, I am enclosing the answers
to the memos on the copy you gave me during our
delightful visit on December li^th. I think I have
covered "all the bases" - if not, let me know. I am
not proud of my typing and really should re-type it,
but as it is just a rough draft, I hope it answers
the purpose. r ^
I am sending you our Christmas cards.
Those drawn and designed by our son, Jim, entailed ^
a lot of work and detail. He was in the advertising
business with B.B.D & O in San Francisco when he re
turned from the war. Mow he is in real estate in
Ray Brown, who had a shop in the Farmers'
Market in Los Angeles, made the silhouettes. ^v,
I am also sending you a copy of a book \\
written by my sister, Eva. She was a wonderful person,
as was her husband, Tom Moseley. Thought you might
enjoy reading this in your spare time - if you ever
Warmest love to you, and please remember
me to the wonderful staff.
DIAL 800-325-3535 TOLL-FREE FOR SHERATON RESE'RVATIONS'WORLDWIDE
ANSWERS TO AMELIA FRY'S QUESTIONS 01 .' VISIT TO BANCROFT LIBRARY DEC. Ik. 1976.
My father's name - NILS PETER PALMQUIST - Osteopath and Baptist Minister
Born in Sweden April 18, 1856
Died in Oakland, Calif. January 19, 190? (51 yrs. old)
My mother's maiden name - Hannah Olivia Elise Malmstrom
Born in Malmo, Sweden April 114., 1869
Died in San Diego, Calif. November 23, 1898 (29 yrs. old)
leaving 5 little ones.
Enoch Nicholas born in Sweden (changed his name to Edward)
Jacob Emmanuel ' James
Nina Elisabeth ' Visby, Gotland, Sweden
Hannah Elise " " South Bend, Indiana.
The family left San Diego after my mother's death and established a home in
Oakland. My father remarried - Sophia Albertina Rosenberg, who also was
born in Sweden. She was a devout Baptist who kept the family together.
My brother, James, was stricken with tuberculosis when 19 years old and sent
to a sanatorium in Arizona. There the disease was arrested, but he died
when 29 years old during the "flu" epidemic In 1919.
My brother, Edward, also died in Arizona with tuberculosis the following year.
This made it necessary for my two sisters and me to find
employment. All three of us were employed by Crane Company, (wholesale
plumbing supply company) In Oakland, and also in the San Francisco office.
(Crane Company's main office is in Chicago.)
I attended Heald's Business College at night in order
to obtain my technical business training.
My sister, Eva, married Thomas Moseley, who was Dean
of the Nyack Bible Institute, Nyack, New York for 18 years. Before that
they spent 25 years in China on the border of Tibet. They were called home
by the Board of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, due to the danger
and disturbance in China. They have two children, Elizabeth and Robert.
Dr. Thomas Moseley was born in England March 1886
Died in Glendale, Calif. December 1959.
My sister, Eva, was born In Sweden, Julyl889
Died in Glendale, Calif. June 1, 1976.
My sister, Hannah, married James Ross Gordon, who died many years ago.
She remarried, Dr. Ralph W. French of Sonoma, who also died. She has two
children, Myra and James.
My first husband, Grover Cleveland Meyers, a pianist of note, died of the
Incurable disease of tuberculosis, and I was left with a very young baby,
Jim. This illness used up the resources of the family and I was compelled
to return to work. I took a position in the office of a woman*s Specialty
Shop in Oakland, which I later managed. Jim was 6 years old when I married
I met Earl at a birthday breakfast party (swimming) on a Sunday
morning given by mutual friends. During the period of our engagement, both
of us were very busy - Earl as Chief deputy district attorney, and I at
the Specialty Shop. After Earl was selected by the Board of Supervisors to
succeed the late Ezra Decota, who was appointed to the Railroad Commission,
we were married in the First Baptist Church in Oakland, by Dr. John Snape
on October Ik, 1925. (Earl was then District Attorney).
Our first home was a flat on Greenwood Ave., in Oakland. Virginia
was born here. We then moved to 958 Larkspur Road where Earl, Jr., Dorothy,
Honey Bear and Robert were born. Five children were born within six years
and four months. Needless to say, it was difficult to get help with so
many little ones, consequently all my time was devoted to my family and the
maintenance of our home. When Bob was a baby we bought a large home at
88 Vernon Street. It was spacious and ideal for our large family.
Earl was always most understanding of my situation and never
expected me to fill social obligations.
Sunday was n my day off 11 and Earl took al 1 the children visiting,
to the zoo, the recreation parks, beach, and many other places as long
as they were happy. Honey Bear and Bobby rode in Infant's seats. These
trips necessitated bottles of milk, cookies, toys and diapers. Earl had
no driver in those days, and I marvel how he could take care of so many
little ones, but he looked forward to these outings.
He gave up playing golf, and to my knowledge the clubs have not
been removed from the bag since 1925* (Perhaps because they are left-
Our children will never forget Christmas at 88 Vernon Street.
It had all the traditional features, but to them was added one unique
custom. Each child had his, or her, own Christmas tree, corresponding
to his or her size, and around it were the gifts. Our recreation room was
veryblarge. The trees were ranked in size, from a big one for Jim, to
the smallest for Bob.
Here is a list of our children, and their children.
James James Lee, Jeffrey Earl, and John Albert Warren
Virginia John Warren, John Jamison and Nina Elisabeth Daly
Earl, Jr. Wendy Jean, Earl III, Ross and Clay Warren
Dorothy No children
Honey Bear William Warren, Earl Warren, and Heather Brien
Robert Debra Arleene, Leslie June, and Linda Susanne Warren
I mentioned to you that I bought the following "on time" as we
started housekeeping from scratch:
Portable Washing Machine.. .... ..$7*00 per month
China .................. 7.00 " "
Crystal ................ 7.00 M
Vacuum Cleaner ......... 7.00
(Britannica) Encyclopedia ......... .. 7.00
It took a long time to pay off this indebtedness.
Regardlng Earl's family. He had one sister, Ethel, who was four
years older than Earl. She was born in Minneapolis, November 15, 188?,
and died June 17, 1966 in Oakland, California.
Ethel was married to Vernon Roland Plank. He died at 14.5 years
of age, suddenly on the golf course.
They had two children, Dorothy who spent six years In a tuber
culosis sanatorium and died in her twenties.
(World W5f II)
Warren Roland, their son, returned home/from the Marine Corps
in the Pacific and spent several years in the hospital. He was released
as an "arrested case". He married - had three fine, healthy sons, and
a lovely wife. "Bud" as he was always called, died while jogging in
I think your memo regarding the first Christmas in the Mansion
reminded me of our first tree. The State Dept. sent a huge, beautiful
16 ft. tree to the Mansion. It was placed in the front living room where
it could be seen by passer-bys on the street. I brought cartons of lights
and ornaments from our Oakland home. Shortly after the housekeeper and I
had trimmed the tree, the telephone rang and someone from the Capital
wanted to know what color ornaments and lights we wanted - that someone
would come over and trim the tree. Of course, I was delighted. We dis
mantled the tree. The following day, I received a phone call informing
me that the State had NEVER furnished ornaments, lights, etc. for the
Mansion tree. I assured them that I had made no such request, and was
surprised when the offer was made. However, I did tell them that I had
been greatly inconvenienced , especially removing the lights. As a result,
an electrician arrived and replaced the lights, and I retrlmmed the tree.
I am sending you a set of our Christmas cards. Those made
by Jim entailed a lot of work - he Is a perfectionist.
Ray Brown, who had a shop In the Farmers' Market In Los Angeles
designed the silhouette cards.
I eliminated the Willis B. George plumbing shop episode as
Crane Co., was a repitltlon, If you want to include it, your notes tell
the story. Perhaps I had better repeat the situation. My sister, Eva,
worked as a bookkeeper for Willis B. George & Co. in Oakland, Calif.
The manager of Crane Co. often called at this office on business, and
was Impressed by her efficiency, etc. and offered her a position in the
Oakland office. When she left, I took her place - then I went to Crane
Co. and my sister, Hannah, took my place. She, too, Joined us at
I think this covers all the memos on your papers.
Warren Family Christmas Card, 1949, designed and drawn by
Warren Family Christinas Card, 1948, designed and drawn by
Bob Margaret Jim jimmy
, v«, V >
In the (riendliol spirit of the Yulctide t«ason
Saint Nick left hit bundle... for a very good reason;
It's packed full of greeting}, and toys, bells and horns
...For a resounding MERRY CHRISTMAS from
ALL THE EARL WARRENS
*Additional Warren family Christmas cards designed and drawn by James Warren
may be found in The Bancroft Library.
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Earl Warren Oral History Project
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE ELDEST WARREN SON
An Interview Conducted by
Miriam Feingold Stein
Copyright © 1980 by The Regents of the University of California
, • /
rs~ -> < .
.^*^ - y^-^^ x '
The Chief Justice with his three sons, at the Nut Tree, Vacaville, California,
December 1962. From left to right: James, Robert, and Earl, Jr. Caption
reads, "Dear Jim: Never was I in better company. Affectionately, Dad. 4/9/63"
TABLE OF CONTENTS — James Warren
I BIRTHPLACE AND BIRTHDAYS 1
II EARLY CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION 4
Military Academy 4
Transfer to the Oakland Public Schools 8
Sports and Injuries 9
Summertime and Household Chores 13
III UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 15
Organizations and Athletics 17
IV GROWING UP IN THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S AND ATTORNEY
GENERAL'S HOME 24
Bridging Office and Home 24
Family Life at Vernon Street 26
Family Recollections 29
The Vernon Street House 31
Jim Warren's Christmas Cards 33
V WORLD WAR II AND MILITARY SERVICE 35
The Fight to Join 35
VI ADVERTISING 39
Climbing the Corporate Ladder 39
The Decision to Leave Advertising 41
VII EARL WARREN AS A GRANDFATHER 43
VIII POLITICS AND THE WARREN FAMILY 46
IX CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN 51
James Warren was interviewed by the Earl Warren Oral History Project
of the Regional Oral History Office of The Bancroft Library in order to
record his reminiscences of life in the Earl Warren family. As the Warrens'
eldest son, he provides important insight into the personal side of Earl
Warren's life and into the family that was his focus and mainstay.
Interviewer: Miriam Feingold Stein
Time and Setting of the Interview: A single interview lasting several hours
was held on July 26, 1976 in James Warren's real estate office in St. Helena,
Conduct and Editing of the Interview; Mr. Warren was eager to assist the
Warren Project, and before the interview had carefully reviewed and annotated
the interview outline and chronology of Earl Warren's career that had been
sent to him by the interviewer. During the interview session he kept telephone
interruptions to a minimum, and after the tape recording was completed he and
his wife, Margaret, provided lunch and informal reminiscences at their ranch
located high in the hills overlooking St. Helena. The ranch had been and
continues to be the site for numerous Warren family reunions.
Both at this and at a subsequent meeting, Mr. Warren pulled out boxes
of family photos and memorabilia, including a file of Christmas cards that
he had designed and drawn, several of which he kindly loaned to the Earl
Warren Project for inclusion in this volume.
The tape recording was transcribed, then edited by the interviewer to
correct typographical errors and to maintain continuity. Mr. Warren carefully
reviewed the edited transcript and made several additions and corrections.
Narrative Account of the Interview: A robust man of medium height, with salt
and pepper hair, Mr. Warren reminisced easily about life in the Earl Warren
family and his own career. He opens with several characteristic stories about
his mother, Nina Warren, then turns to his own education and upbringing. He
describes the rigorous education and discipline at the Del Monte Military
Academy, and his subsequent transfer to the Oakland public schools, ( — it was
at this point that the widowed Nina Palmquist Meyers, his mother, married
Earl Warren, who immediately adopted the seven-year-old James. James hence
forward regarded Earl Warren as his natural father. — ) and discusses with
enthusiasm his involvement in high school athletics. His schoolday recollec
tions shed light on Earl Warren's great concern as a father in encouraging his
children's widely varied interests and talents.
Continuing with his college years at the University of California.
Berkeley, James Warren describes his growing interest in art, his organi
zational affiliations (which closely paralleled his father's) and the in
fluence of his father's philosophy of pursuing with discipline and respon
sibility a broad range of activities that were challenging and that gave
one "a good mental workout".
Mr. Warren paints a warmly vivid and personal picture of life in the
district attorney's and attorney general's home. Warren as a father
devoted his entire attention at home to his family and carefully shielded
them from the pressures and controversies of his office. He showed deep
interest in his children's activities, attending their sports competitions
and school events whenever possible. And he and Mrs. Warren did little
formal entertaining and accepted few evening invitations that would inter
fere with family life. James Warren describes the family's Vernon Street
home in Oakland, a comfortable, rambling house large enough to hold the
myriad of family activities, from the Christmas trees (one for each child)
to the Shriner's band's visit on New Year's Day.
Mr. Warren's graduate education at Harvard Business School was
interrupted by World War II, and he describes his service in the army, navy,
and the marines during the war. After the war, and now married, he relates,
he found work in an advertising agency, learned everything he could about
the industry, and gradually worked his way up the corporate ladder. The
purchase of the ranch property in St. Helena and growing dissatisfaction with
corporate advertising led Warren ultimately to change careers to real estate
sales and management in the Napa Valley.
Mr. Warren offers valuable insight and vignettes about Earl Warren as
a grandfather, to the James Warrens' three sons, and to the thirteen other
Warren grandchildren, and he shares his recollections of the family's involve
ment in Earl Warren's political campaigns. He concludes the interview with
reminiscences of his father as chief justice.
Miriam Feingold Stein
27 October 1977
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California
I BIRTHPLACE AND BIRTHDAYS
[Date of Interview: July 26, 1976]
Stein: Could you begin by telling me your birthplace?
Warren: My birthplace is the funniest thing in town. I don't know anybody
else who ever was born there, but I was born in Pismo Beach,
Stein: Pismo Beach?
Warren: Pismo Beach, yes.
Stein: What was your mother doing there?
Warren: That's what I've wondered. It was in March, you know. It wasn't
even a vacation — I don't know. But every time I put down Pismo Beach
on my driver's license, or when people say, "Where were you born?"
and I say, "Pismo Beach," the room just falls into laughter, because
everybody's heard about it but nobody believes any thing's there but
clams. [Laughter.] They don't believe there is such a place as
Stein: At least there was a hospital in Pismo Beach.
Warren: I don't know what's happened down there. I guess it's built up a lot,
and they've got all kinds of restaurants and tourist traps and all the
rest of it. Pismo Beach has always been to me like Waukegan was to
Jack Benny, I think.
Stein: Let's just get on the record your birth date.
Warren: Twenty-sixth of March, 1919. Wish you hadn't reminded me of that. In
fact, half the family is born in March, I think. My mother was March 9
and Dad was March 19 and our son is March 18 and I'm the 26th and
Maggie's mother was March 19, same as my dad, and Maggie's aunt is the
26th, same as mine. It's just been a phenomenon.
Stein: It sounds like you could have one big family birthday party in March
and take care of everybody.
Warren: We could actually, and we could stretch a pretty good gamut too. One
of my aunts' husband just had his ninetieth birthday. Of course we
don't know how old Irene is either; we never know how old any of the
women in our family are, including my mother.
To this day I'm not sure. I've never taken the trouble to look
it up because it would be sort of an affront. Well, maybe not an
affront, but that's something she's so —
I got a laugh out of it the last time we were back in Washington.
It was Dad's eightieth birthday, and John Daly and Virginia [Warren
Daly] put the party on. John is sort of infamous for doing this, but
just before you're going to sit down for dinner he goes up to every
body in the place that he wants to do this to. First he starts with
the three brothers — he never picks on the girls — and each of us had
to stand up and talk for two minutes on what it meant, what it was
like to have been a member of the Warren family. There are all these
dignitaries in the room. The place was just loaded with everybody
from chief justices to Toots Shor.
The laugh came from one of the anecdotes I pretended to recall.
My mother, I said, had her birthday on the 9th of March and here it
was the 19th of March and she can not figure out — she's walking around
mumbling to herself because she can't figure out — how Dad got to be
twice as old as she is when their birthdays are only ten days apart.
Everybody in that room picked it up, too, because nobody's ever known
how old she is and I don't think we'll ever find out. [Laughter.]
Stein: She's done what every woman dreams of doing, to keep her age a secret.
Warren: Yes. She's got everyone faked out.
I know one of the things that caught John Weaver was my recollec
tion that she never stops moving; she's always in motion. When you go
in to have breakfast you never get any frozen orange juice and stuff
like that. She squeezes them all by hand. It takes ten times as long
but it's always fresh and she's always moving.
When we were back there at one of the functions — I forget which
one it was — all of the kids were back there and, after whatever the
festivities were, we'd take off and head for a beer. Just a big bull
session or whatever, and we'd come back in around 2:00 or 2:30 in the
morning. Walk in, here's the light on in the bedroom and Mother says,
"Hi, what have you been up to? Did you have a good time?" You walk
in there and here she is, watching television on this bicycle, going
up and down like this at two o'clock in the morning. [Laughter.]
Stein: She had an exer cycle?
Warren: Yes, she was on an exercycle at two o'clock in the morning watching
television when we came home.
The rest of the time, during the daytime, she's got an iron going
back and forth on the ironing board and she's watching all of the soap
operas, As the World Turns and all those. But she's moving all the
time. She's not sitting there watching, she's ironing or she's
squeezing or she's mixing. She's always doing two things at once.
Stein: She's still doing this?
Warren: Yes, as far as I know. Our oldest boy, Jim, is an attorney in San
Francisco now. He has to go back to New York and Washington occasion
ally on business and when he does, every chance he gets, he goes and
stays with his grandmother. He says now he's getting to the point
where he's afraid to open the door because there's almost always three
cakes. There's never only two. It's unthinkable to have only one,
but she's got three cakes baked by the time he gets back there.
He'll come home after dinner, after a meeting, come home around
10:00 or 10:30 at night. He's had dinner and he's all ready to go to
bed or whatever, but he wants to sit around and chew the fat with his
grandmother. But he always has to eat a cake and a half while he's
doing it. [Laughter.]
Stein: I've heard about her famous chocolate cakes.
Warren: Angel food and devil's food, the only two kinds she ever makes. I'm
not sure what the record is, but every year at New Year's, when the
Shrine football game was played at Kezar Stadium, the whole Shrine band
would show up at twelve or fourteen different homes in the Bay Area.
They always started at our place because we had a bunch of young kids
and they had to get to bed. So they'd show up at our place first, and
they had this crazy little model-T Ford thing that they'd run around
the stadium in and shoot cannons off the top of.
In order to get ready for it, my mother would make just platter
after platter of ham and cheese on rye and all of these cakes. And
then of course there were all the liquid refreshments that the Shrine
band always expects to be there. [Laughter] I thought she made eleven
cakes in one day but I think she said fourteen. But what's the differ
They're all made that day; none of them are made the day before.
They have to be made the same day that they get there. This is the
right way to do it and the only way she will.
II EARLY CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION
Stein: Is this how you remember her when you were a young child growing up?
Stein: I'm thinking about even the years before she met the Chief Justice,
if you can remember back that far.
Warren: I remember the flat we lived in with my grandma, Nana, Nana Palmquist.
It was one of these old-fashioned places where you open the door — we
lived upstairs — and there was a handle, a mechanical handle, at the
top of the stairs that you could pull to open the door down at the
Mother was working then; she worked for Mrs. Roller, Roller's
Dress Shop. I remember we lived right across from the Yellow Cab
garage in a neighborhood where everybody was 01 Olson and Lars Larsen
and Sven Svenson and Jon Johnson. I know one of the guys was a sheet
metal worker. The junk man would come by with a horse, and pick up
newspapers. I remember little things like that. I used to walk to
work with my mother in the morning. This is only about the first five
years; I can't go back too much. I remember burning my hand on a wood
stove in the parlor and that kind of thing.
Stein: What did she do with you during the day when she was working at the
Warren: I just stayed with my grandmother. She was home; she lived there.
This was pre-school years. I guess the first schooling I ever had
was at the military academy. In those days I don't think they even
had kindergarten. I was five years old when I went to the military
academy, so that was kindergarten age anyway.
Stein: What military academy was this?
Warren: It was called the Del Monte Military Academy in Pacific Grove. I was
there from the time I was five until I was ten and when I left I think
at that tender age I had seniority over every single kid in the entire
Fantastic educational background from the standpoint of getting
into things that — I ran into things there in English, particularly
English , and grammar that I didn't see again until I was in the tenth
Stein: So it was a really rigorous education?
Warren: Really a rigorous education. Of course discipline, military discipline,
was what it was all about. In addition to bed checks and all that sort
of stuff, you had to go to bed at a certain time, get up at a certain
time, stand in line for meals. Punishments were very, very specific.
You'd get slapped on the palm of your hand with a ruler and you'd get
whacked on the behind with a hairbrush. In fact, there were a couple
of instructors who used razor strops.
Once every so often — I forget whether it's once a week or once a
month — we had to get Argyrol in our eyes and drink Epsom salts and
castor oil. I mean everybody, the entire student body, would line up.
This was part of the health program.
Stein: Was this a nutritional sort of thing?
Warren: Yes. You'd walk through the line and you'd get a spoonful — you had a
choice: a spoonful of castor oil or a glass of Epsom salts.
Stein: Quite a choice!
Warren: Oh, it was just brutal.
Stein: What was it that they put in your eyes?
Warren: Argyrol.* This is a health thing, too. There were just continual
checkups all the time. The academy was about a mile from town and
we'd march into church every Sunday. I guess the big thing was going
*A trade name for silver vitellin. In the form of an aqueous solution, it was
used as a local antiseptic for the eyes, ears, nose, and throat.
Warren: to the movie in town on Saturday night. I remember Douglas Fairbanks,
Jr. was playing in the Black Pirate, and for some infraction of the
rules, I don't even remember what it was — maybe I was out of step or
broke ranks or talked after taps or whatever it was — but I was not
allowed to go to the movie. I've never forgotten that punishment.
Stein: That would be a mighty severe punishment for a young boy.
Stein: Do you know how your mother came to send you to a military academy?
Warren: Didn't really wonder about it at the time. But looking back on it, I
think it was a very thoughtful combination of things. It gave me a
chance to get a good start in schooling and it gave them a chance to
get to know each other.
Stein: So you were sent away about the same time that she met Mr. Warren.
Warren: My mother tells me that I used to know when Earl was coming over, and
I'd say, "When's Earl coming?" I think I used to climb all over him,
sit in his lap, but I'm really going more on what she remembers than
what I remember.
But the only thing I do know is I have never been without a father.
This is a strange thing I guess, but any inference or reference to
step-father always seemed to me something that would offend him. It's
never crossed my mind, except in later years, more mature years, but
I never knew anything about my dad. As I understand it he died about
the time I was born.
Stein: That's what Weaver says, in his book.*
Warren: I'm not sure. I think maybe before I was three weeks old. He obvi
ously must have been one swell guy otherwise my mother wouldn't have
married him. I wouldn't ever want to — I don't know, what am I trying
to say here? — ignore, disregard, overlook the fact that he must have
been a fine man, too. In fact, I remember my mother once saying that
the worst tragedy in her life turned out later to be the greatest thing
that ever happened to her.
*John D. Weaver, Warren: The Man, the Court, the Era (Boston, 1967), p. 40.
But as far as my childhood memories are concerned, I've always
had a father, and I never called him anything but Dad. I don't
remember ever calling him Earl. He certainly made that completely
In later years I've run across people that, when we're introduced,
seem to get some subtle sort of satisfaction out of being able to say,
"Oh, sure, Earl Warren's family. You're his step-son." Or, "I knew
your step-father." It always hits me as going out of the way for some
sort of a dig or a gig of some kind. I wonder why. And I have to
confess I bridle a little inside, because all of our friends — and they
all know, of course — have never, not once that I can recall, ever
referred to other than "your dad" or spoken of us as anything but
Jim's dad or Earl's son.
I've even wondered at times if I owed my own kids an apology
because his blood is not in their veins. But that's dumb, of course,
really ridiculous. Yet I know the sensation. And when some people,
on the other hand, when we're introduced and they put the names
together say, "Why, sure, I can certainly see the resemblance, you
look just like him" — I know they're sincere and they mean it, but I'm
always glad there's not one of the other type around who'd like to
set the record straight. It would be so unkind and unfair to Dad.
That's why I've never been curious or probed around about — would you
believe that I don't think I've ever even seen a picture of Cleve
Meyers. But Maggie has managed to learn that his name at birth was
Cooper and when his father died he acquired the name Meyers in exactly
the same way that I became a Warren.
Women do get into these things more, don't they.
Sure do. But men have their ways, too. I think the nicest handling
of the whole matter was when we were flying back to Dad's funeral
and — in some way I can't even recall — the topic came up when I was
sitting with one of my sons. I only remember this young man saying,
"Pop, he was your real father. The distinction is simply between a
real parent and a natural one."
What a nice way to put it.
Really the proper way, too, when you think
Mother and Dad got married while I was at the military academy and I
remember the first time the roll was called after my name change.
There was another kid in the same squad whose name was Jackie Ward,
and when they called the roll and they got to him — Ward comes before
Warren, alphabetically — when they said Ward, I yelled, "Here."'
[Laughter.] I was so anxious to answer to the name.
Stein: Did you come home for visits?
Warren: Yes. It seems to me we could come home once a month. I don't remember
that I did come home once a month all the time; that was too expensive.
But it wasn't all that necessary. There was no distance between us at
all. We were very much in touch. They'd come down to the academy once
in a while. It was not terribly different from going away to school
except for the nature of the academy itself.
Transfer to the Oakland Public Schools
Stein: Well then, what happened at age ten, when you left there?
Warren: I think that was simply a case of by then I'd been there for five years,
I'd had the education. In fact, I think the academy went broke the
next year. I don't think they opened — I was ready to come home, for
sure. It's just like having gone through the elementary phase of your
education, and now you're ready to come home and go to a different
Stein: What grade was that?
Warren: Well, when I came home, let's see. During that period I guess they were
living near McChesney High School in Oakland. What was it? Not Green
field, Greenview, Green something — Greenwood Avenue, that's it — in a
duplex. The family that owned the place lived downstairs, the Otto
family. They were all mechanics and very German and a very fine family,
all craftsmen of some sort.
I guess that's when Dad bought 958 Larkspur. I remember the flat
but just coming back and forth from school. Virginia was born when I
was down at the academy and I think that they were living in the flat
when Virginia was born and then they found this house at 958 Larkspur.
[Pause] Yes, because I was tenish and that was the fifth grade at
Crocker Highlands, and so I started school in the fifth grade.
Stein: So you went to Crocker Highlands School in Oakland.
Sports and Injuries
Stein: When did the family move to 88 Vernon?
Warren: I'm going to say it was 1934, because 1935 was the year I broke my
elbow, and everything revolved around September 12, 1935. [Laughter.]
I usually add "about 3:47 in the afternoon." [Pause] I was fifteen
when we moved into 88.
Stein: So by then you were past elementary school.
Warren: Yes. Then I was a sophomore in high school. I was a junior in high
school when I broke my elbow.
Stein: What high school was this?
Warren: Oakland High.
Stein: How did you break your elbow?
Warren: We were scrimmaging the day before the first game against Piedmont High
and we had not run any punt formation practice. We'd only been prac
ticing for two weeks. This was our first chance to pick up the specialty
performances. I was an end, going down under punts, and they were
switching off the defending backs on the ends, and the kickers and
everything else — you know, just a routine practice. I was going down
under this punt when I saw this guy coming at me, the defending half
back, and I cut to the left and something hit me. I didn't even see it
happen. I spun up in the air and landed on my arm in such a way that
it bent the elbow at a right angle back the wrong way.
It turned out later on, when we reconstructed the thing, that the
guy that was coming at me wasn't coming at me at all. He was just
leaving the field, taking his helmet off. But I cut away from him and
ran right into this other guy who really spun me like a pinwheel.
Stein: I read somewhere that you had almost lost your right arm playing foot
ball at Oakland High. Would that be the same story, or is that a
Warren: It's an offshoot of the same story. It was diagnosed as a dislocation.
They took me down to the family doctor instead of a bone specialist.
There was no reason not to, I guess. He put a fluroscope on it, rather
than taking an x-ray, and it looked like a simple dislocation so he set
the thing. I just remember waking up at two o'clock in the morning and
my whole arm was on fire. The next day, and from that time on until it
was operated on in March, I think, these two fingers, the fourth and
little fingers of the right hand, were paralyzed. I put my hand on a
hot stove one time and picked it up and there were blisters and I didn't
even know it. All the muscles between the thumb and forefinger and from
my wrist to the elbow went down to nothing but bone.
Warren: It was sort of a gruesome session there trying to get that arm
straightened out, and the reason it wouldn't was because at the time
it was dislocated it was also chipped, and the chip slid out and grew.
This big bone grew in there and that's why they couldn't straighten
the darn thing out. When the doctor finally operated — we finally got
to Harold Hitchcock and he operated — he took the bone chip out and
moved the nerve to the outside. But my arm has never straightened out
since; it stops right there. [Demonstrating.] That's as far as it
Stein: Was that the same injury as the elbow business?
Warren: The same thing. Yes. I think I read somewhere that my dad said that
I almost lost the arm. I don't know. I was never aware of it if that
was the case.
Stein: I gather that you were active in football.
Warren: Yes, I was. Every kid's dream then, I guess, was to play in the
East-West Shrine game.
Stein: Were there any other things you were involved in in school? Politics
or drama or music?
Warren: I used to dive a lot, springboard diving at the Athens Club. There was
a fellow named Morty Macks, who was quite a swimmer. Our coach even
talked about our trying out for the '36 Olympics. But then I broke
the elbow in '35 and whether I — you can always look back and say these
things when you never had to perform, you know. But I don't know that
I ever would- have continued diving to that extent.
I did do a lot of exhibition diving at the Athens Club, and one
time they asked me if I would compete for Oakland High in a diving meet.
I'd never even been on the team until they asked. I guess we practiced
for a couple of weeks and the end of the story, of course, has to be
that I won it! [Laughter.] So I was the Oakland Athletic League diving
champion for one year there.
Stein: Were there any subjects that you particularly excelled in at school,
or that you enjoyed?
Warren: Well I guess, in an unlikely sort of a way, English, and English
grammar. It was something that was so thoroughly ingrained in us at
the military academy. As I say, I didn't run into sentence structure
and grammar and that sort of thing again until I was in the tenth
grade. I'd had it all by the time I was ten years old.
I guess in a sense I've always revered and admired good writers
as a consequence of it. Some of these columnists in the periodicals
today I think are just fantastically eloquent in the way they express
things. And to see what happens today: so many of the kids can't
even spell, they can't write, they can't conjugate, they can't do any
thing. They just don't even teach it anymore.
Same with Latin. I took all the Latin that they ever gave in
high school, I guess for no other reason than it was the basis for all
languages. I have a doctor friend now who's quite a researcher and
he always talks about the usefulness of useless knowledge. Learning
Latin is like that.
Stein: Did you get much help from your parents in schoolwork?
Warren: Oh yes, to the extent that I asked for it. Dad was always very willing
to discuss, debate. He was just terrific with all of us, any time we
had a question or a problem or something to discuss. He just did every
thing humanly possible to help every one of the kids, who are all unlike
each other, to develop his own bent. He would always, in this area, at
the dinner table or any time we were all together, he would always turn
the conversation toward any one of us and get something going.
Then, invariably, we'd get into something that would be debatable
or controversial and he'd take the other side, on purpose, to make you
prove your point.
Which reminds me, Mimi — if I might make a point that brings this
right up to date — are you aware, from any of your research or inter
views about how Dad went to the lengths he did to keep Justice Harlan
active on the bench because of this opposite viewpoint business?
Stein: Gee, I'm not sure. So, please go on.
Warren: Well, Justice Harlan's eyesight became quite impaired as the years went
on. Dad told us how he (Harlan) literally had to use a jeweler's eye
glass to do some of his reading and one day he came to Dad and actually
wondered if he shouldn't resign because he felt he was slowing down the
case load of the Court. And Dad told us he said, "No, John, your
contribution from the opposite point of view is too valuable. The
Court needs you too much" — or whatever words, you know. But what Dad
did was to hire an extra secretary — out of his own pocket — to provide
Justice Harlan with the help he needed to keep up with his work. But
Harlan never knew how the secretary was provided.' The point being:
I'm quite sure I've read that of all the decisions handed down while
the two were on the Bench together, Harlan — more consistently than any
other Justice — voted on the opposite side from Warren. That, to me,
speaks a volume about the kind of man we're talking about.
It does, indeed. And I'm impressed that you can take it back so
readily to when you were kids at the dinner table.
Oh, yes. Dad never missed a chance to provoke a debate. He could
really cut you to ribbons in a very kind way. You'd realize later
what was going on, but if you didn't know what you were talking about,
then don't talk about it, or if you can't say what you mean you don't
know what you mean.
I can't say that he would sit down and actually help you work out
an arithmetic problem or something that obvious. I mean, there are
sources you can go to yourself to find how to multiply or divide. But
he was always intensely interested in any of the activities that any
of the kids got into.
Earl [Jr.] became, I guess, almost a professional taxidermist; he
was good at it. I mean, he would stuff birds and animals himself.
Earl and Bob became very interested in hunting and fishing from Dad,
who loved it. I guess I was just an age beyond, by the time they got
into all that. In fact, I never went duck shooting until I was married.
But they grew up hunting and fishing. That's strictly an age difference
Were your folks at all involved in the school?
anything like that?
Was there a PTA or
Yes. I can remember their being at PTA meetings. I can't remember
that they were frequent or that big a thing, but if there was ever an
occasion for parents' night or PTA or whatever — I know when I went into
the Boy Scouts, Dad would always come to whatever functions there were.
But, once you started something you were in it until you went as far as
it was possible to go. I didn't dare quit until I became an Eagle Scout,
I think Earl and Bob are too, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Once
you start something you never quit, no matter what.
It happened with ROTC. Here, after all of this military academy
stuff, there was a requirement for ROTC in high school in our day.
You had to take a certain amount of it, and I think because of my
military training I was not required to take as much as the other guys.
But at the end of six months I'd had it, I wanted out. You know, I
was bored with it, but no way. You're in it, you're in it for at
least a year. You can't quit.
That was your father saying that to you, that you've got to see every
Warren: Yes, oh yes.
Summertime and Household Chores
Stein: What did you do during the summers in school, in high school? Did you
have summer jobs?
Warren: Yes. I had the usual spate of paper routes, and when we lived at 88
Vernon, that piece of property was a project. I mean, it was big
enough, overgrown, and with enough lawn and enough things to take care
of. There was plenty of work just on weekends to do. We all had
chores. We all had to cut the lawns and do certain specific things.
I remember one time, just after we bought the place, Dad got ahold
of a flagpole that somebody gave him, real old, beat up, warped, cracked,
chipped, checked and everything else. I remember the hours I spent on
that thing, taking the paint off and oiling it and getting it back to
where it was supple and alive again. Then he thought it would be nice
to have the flagpole out under these trees. It wasn't a case of just
digging a hole and putting it in. I dug a good hole and I lined it
with redwood and I put cement on the bottom. When Dad came home that
night he looked at it and said, "Gee, it would be just great if it
could just be maybe fifteen or eighteen inches over this way so it
wouldn't be in the way of that tree." [Laughter.] I had to take the
whole thing out and move it.
Stein: You undid the whole thing?
Warren: I had to undo the whole thing and put in a whole new hole because it
was a few inches off. Well, this is fine. It was not an unreasonable
Stein: Then on holidays would he run a flag up there?
Warren: Oh yes. We had a flag every event, every holiday.
I guess one of the most telling characteristics of the man was
that — I don't think any one of us ever participated in anything that
he wasn't there, and we all participated in something. Honey Bear got
into horses and jumping, and so did Bob for a while, and through all
of those years at the Athens Club and the exhibition meets, he always
came to watch me dive. When each of us got into high school, he came
to every football game or event that he possibly could. These were
all Friday afternoon games in those days, and if he could get off
early in the afternoon he would always be there. I've never known a
man who was so dedicated to what his kids were doing. He was always
there. No matter where you were you could look over and he was sitting
Stein: An ideal father.
Warren: Yes. He really was. A very uncommon guy.
III UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Stein: To finish off your education, after high school where did you go?
Warren: Went to Cal, and that was in the days when Cal only started in the
fall and I had graduated from high school in December. I went to
business school for six months and learned typing and shorthand and
all the stuff that I thought would be helpful in taking notes and
writing them up by the time I got to Berkeley.
When I entered Cal I was one scared kid. To get into college and
stay in college was to me, I guess, the greatest, one of the toughest
things that anybody was ever expected to do.
Stein: After all you had learned by that time, at the military academy and
everything, you were still worried?
Warren: Oh yes! I think I got one C in high school. And I'm not sure that
that wasn't in one of those upper division Latin courses. They had
the course at seven o'clock in the morning before school started. I'm
not sure what course it was, but I -got one C and I don't think there
was ever a time from my sophomore year on that I wasn't on the honor
roll. I mean, this was expected, in a way.
I've got to be careful about the emphasis there because the whole
point was that C was average. Anybody could get a C. And nobody ever
settles for average. So as long as you got a B average, okay. Nobody
expected you to get all A's or demanded it. In fact, it was a lot
better to have a B average and to participate in a lot of other acti
vities than it was to get all A's and not participate in anything else.
He was really for the well-rounded individual.
Warren: So he encouraged all the activities that we could possibly get
into and certainly sports was one of those at the top of the list.
This carried through the rest of his life. I have read some of his
statements — and I know we've heard him say — that when he picks up the
morning newspaper he always starts with the sports page because the
sports page is a record of man's accomplishments and the front page
is a record of man's failures. All the problems are on the front page
but all of the good things that people do are on the sports page.
Toots Shor, when he was asked to speak at that eightieth birthday
party, called him the best informed public official on sports of any
man he had ever known in his life. He really followed it; it didn't
make any difference whether it was football, baseball, basketball —
anything that was going on. He was an avid sports fan.
Stein: It's remarkable that he was able to keep all that in his head along
with all the workload that he was carrying.
Warren: I remember when — we're jumping back and forth here, if it doesn't make
any difference — years later, when Dad went back to Washington, the
first time he came out to California as Chief Justice, he came up to
the office. I met him in the lobby of the building (it was the Russ
Building, I remember that.) We got in the elevator and he reached
into his wallet and pulled out a clipping from the green sheet and
said, "I just clipped out the starting line-up for the Bears this
coming fall. What do you know about these fellows?" That's the first
time I'd seen him in months — since he'd gone back to Washington — and
here we are going up in the elevator, and he was directing the conver
sation to me again. What I was interested in he wanted to talk about.
Stein: Getting back to Cal, what did you end up majoring in?
Stein: We stopped just as you were about to tell me what you majored in at Cal,
Warren: Well, I had always copied the funny papers when I was a kid and I
thought I wanted to be an artist. So I entered the university as an
art major, very sheepishly, and I was very embarrassed about it. But
as far as anything else, economics or math or physics, I knew certainly
that they were not going to be my field. After two years I had an
equal number of units in art, philosophy and public speaking, plus all
the required courses that you've got to take. Going into my junior
year I was determined I was not going to be a general curriculum major,
so between the three I decided to become a philosophy major and I guess
I took every philosophy course I could cram in there to fulfill the
requirements. So I majored in philosophy.
Stein: Did you get any direction at all from your parents about what you would
maj or in?
No, I think Dad thought that was good, because I don't think there's
any question — he certainly implanted in our minds early in the game
that really the university is a mental gymnasium. It doesn't really
make much difference, that much difference, what you major in unless
you're going to be a specialist in one of the sciences or medicine or
whatever. Going to college is not necessarily going to help you get
a good job in your major. So as long as you get into something that
tests you and that tries you and gives you a good mental workout — and
philosophy certainly would qualify in that category.
What did you see yourself preparing for?
Did you have a career in
I still thought I wanted to be an artist. In fact, when I got out of
the Marine Corps I sent some cartoons into the New Yorker, and I guess
the best thing that can be said about them is that I got them back.
Most people told me that when you send things in to the New Yorker you
never see them again; they just take them and toss them aside. But at
least I got them back with a printed, not a typed, a printed notice,
"We acknowledge receipt of your work, thanks very much" [laughter] and
so forth. "Returning it with our best wishes," type of thing. I guess
all of these instincts and intuitions came together in a notion that
the closest thing to being in a creative field was to work for an
advertising agency. So that's where I started.
Organizations and Athletics
Stein: I see. Just to finish up at Cal, my notes list a number of organiza
tions you were active in on campus .
[Tape 1, side 2]
Stein: My notes indicate that you were a member of the Golden Bear?
Stein: What was that?
Warren: Cal has a number of different societies: the junior year was Winged
Helmet and the Order of the Golden Bear — for senior men — are the two
honor societies for upper classmen.
Stein: Then they're honor societies?
Warren: Yes. In that category, of course, Skull and Keys, among the fraterni
ties, was the big aspiration. Then it turned out that there were some
others that I had heard about but didn't know about until I got there.
Anyway, I knew that my dad had been in Skull and Keys.
Stein: Was that also strictly an honor society?
Warren: Not an academic organization. It was really a beer drinking society
among fraternities. It's an honor society in the sense that the houses
with the most guys in Skull and Keys were the strongest on the campus
that year. Mostly made up of athletes and team managers.
But anyway, I think when I graduated from college I had been in
every single organization that my dad had ever been in, and one more,
which was Golden Bear. He was taken in as an honorary member of Golden
Bear when I was the president of Golden Bear. This was just great.
In fact — this is nice, because I remember Dean [Monroe E.] Deutsch,
the provost — I had to make the welcoming speech and introductions as
president of the organization. Then Dr. Deutsch introduced Earl Warren
as the father of Jim Warren, [laughter] which is very nice. He was a
really thoughtful guy.
Stein: Yes. That was a gracious thing to do.
Warren: Well, it was a first time ever — and I really thanked Dr. Deutsch. But
the most significant thing about making all the societies that Dad had
been in — actually, it was a big deal for the house to have as many guys
in your fraternity make as many of these organizations as possible —
but the biggest — well, thrill, I guess you'd say, came a college gener
ation later when our middle son, Jeff, was taken into another outfit
I can't really talk about much. Really hush hush, you know. But it's
sort of the ultimate, you might say. And Dad had been in it. And
when Jeff was taken in a generation later it just — well, Jeff called
me at two in the morning and I just about yowled and said, "My god,
have you called Papa Warren?" and Jeff said, "Yep, I just hung up."
He'd already phoned him in Washington, regardless of the hour of the
night. But the thing that makes it so big for all of us is that it's
the first time in the history of the University that there have been
three generations of the same family in there. In fact, just before
Dad died — which was a Tuesday and this was the Thursday before — Jeff
and I were in the hospital room with him and the three of us had a
private little meeting all our own.
Stein: Sounds quite profound.
Warren: It was.
Stein: I can't press you for a little more detail?
Warren: Sorry, Mimi, I really can't say too much. John Weaver's book mentions
drinking beer at Pop Kessler's — which is about as far as I can go.
But I did feel it ought to be mentioned in some way because it's such
a big factor — almost a milestone, maybe — in any story about Earl
Stein: Well, thanks for this much. Maybe somebody knows something I don't
know, but I think I see now why my notes include a heading on Organi
zations and Athletics .
Warren: Oh boy, that gets into the big-one-that-got-away department. The only
organization I would have given almost anything to make — but it just
didn't work out — was the Big C society — you know, lettering in a major
sport at Cal. Dad was in Big C, but as an honorary member. He was
taken in later — maybe as early as DA, maybe as late as governor, I
just don't recall. I lettered in freshman basketball and three years
running in rugby and a rambler — that's junior varsity — letter in foot
ball in my junior year. But rugby fouled up spring practice in my
senior year, so that crack at a big C in football my last year just
didn't pan out.
Stein: Was Jeff in Big C, too?
Warren: Really should have been. The kid's a great athlete — had a football
scholarship and all, but injuries and mono kept cutting him down til
he finally decided it was time, as he put it, to "hang 'em up."
That's jock talk for "cleats". [Laughter.] So, like father like son,
he ended up playing rugby, too.
Stein: Where there's a will there's a way, right? And, also, don't quit.
Warren: You got it. All through college I played — when my elbow got well
enough so that I could do things with it — I went out for basketball
as a freshman. I couldn't go out for contact sports for a while,
until I tested the elbow out. So I went out for basketball, and the
coach cleared the bench often enough that I made my freshman numeral
in basketball. [Laughter.]
Then I learned about rugby, which I'd heard about, but I'd never
seen or played. So I tried out for rugby. I had a metal cup on an
elastic brace that was to protect the elbow here. So I ended up
playing three years of rugby. Again, every game that he could make,
Dad was always there. And of course he'd come to all the annual func
tions of Skull and Keys or the rugby club or whatever organization
would have them. He was always very much around.
Stein: Were you in a fraternity?
Warren: Yes. I was a Chi Phi, [spells it] which is the oldest national
fraternity in history. I guess its main strength is in the south.
Stein: Was your father in a fraternity?
Warren: He was a Sigma Phi, which was called La Junta at the time [spells it] .
The La Junta Club was a local when he was at Berkeley. Then they were
taken over by the Sigma Phi's. They were an old one, too. I think
they only had ten chapters across the country, but wherever they were
they were very strong.
One thing — this is probably very, very tough on a father, because
you don't know you're doing it at the time — but the one thing I was
never going to do was to be a member of his fraternity and I was never
going to go into law. I was never going to do anything that would
create any impression of riding on his coattails.
Stein: I was going to ask you what your feelings were about law.
Warren: I guess that I never really gave it a fair chance because I eliminated
it so early in the game.
Stein: Was that strictly your own feeling, or was that something that he felt
also, that he wanted you to make your own mark?
Warren: Oh, he was great about it. He never pressed, pushed; he understood.
We never had any talks about it. I think he probably just intuited
it. He never put any pressure on, never made anything uncomfortable,
just whatever any of us wanted to get into he just encouraged no matter
what direction it went. There aren't many like him.
Stein: Do your own thing, in other words.
Warren: Well, yeah — in a sense. But not just any dumb thing. There had to be
some what — some merit, maybe — or certainly some discipline. Be your
own man, but not to the extent that you slacked off or chose something
easy or ran away from a challenge. Slacker — yes, I remember slacker
as a big word when I was a kid. And "a lick and a promise" was what
we'd call today a "no no". Give, give, give — all you've got — to what
ever it is that you want to be. And certainly, for sure, no distinction
between pursuits in life, so long as they're honest work. I remember
his reverence — yeah, I'd stick with reverence — for a master mechanic
as compared, say, with a Phi Beta Kappa. He used to talk a lot about
the fact that a boy who can't be comfortable with books but who can do
great things with his hands should never be put in a class that should
make him feel inferior. We need both, he'd say, and then he'd look at
his own hands and say, "I can't even drive a nail or draw a picture of
a straight line."
Warren: Even — gee, I'm talking too much, maybe, but you can cut out what
you don't want — he even applied this philosophy to his kids when we
got old enough to drink. "If you decide to," he'd say, "and I went to
college, myself, I only hope you won't do it badly. I'd rather see a
man drink everybody in the room under the table and not show it than
I would an arm-waver. So, if you do, handle it. Don't be a jackass
or act like a hot shot."
Stein: Man talk, I guess, is what you're saying.
Warren: Of the best order. And Maggie and I have always hoped that he saw his
influence rub off on our kids. Because they're as unlike as his
approach would allow for. Jim's an attorney in San Francisco, Jeff's
a free lance writer in New York and Jocko is a location manager with
Universal Studios in Hollywood. And each time any of them took a long
step in the right direction — got a job, passed an exam, got a promotion
or whatever — we'd always hear that famous "Well, well, well. . .isn't
We do know, in fact — Maggie and I — how pleased he was at their
various stages of development. That all three of them made it into
Cal made him one proud Papa Warren, I can tell you. And earlier — I
think it was after Jimmy's sophomore year in high school — the kid got
himself a summer job on a Standard Oil tanker and worked, mostly below
decks, at that, with — well, you can imagine what a crew of professional
seamen would be like. I know his grandmother, "Beeb", (that's Maggie's
mother) used to imagine!
Warren: Yeah. [Laughter] Beeb. She used to call him "Sweetie Pie" when he
was a baby — before he was old enough to talk. And it was one of the
first words he ever tried to say, and Sweetie Pie came out Bee Bye —
which later got shortened to Beeb. There was a pair, by the way —
Earl and Beeb — he called her that a lot, too. But these two bulwarks
of the old school, these — well, examples of a generation of — what —
propriety, good dealings, hang in there boys — you know, the good old
tried and trues. The world may never see another generation like
them, but Maggie and I sure lucked out and so did our boys to have
known their influence. And it was there, too. All the grandparents —
and may I never fail to include Mama Warren, too — she had ways that so
complemented everything Papa Warren did. But these grandparents were
on our kids like a blanket — all through their lives, really. The
personal interest was remarkable, actually — really a factor in the
kids ' growing up .
But Jimmy's independence and self-assurance sure began to blossom
after that sea-farin' adventure [laughter] in the big wide world. And
then, when he graduated from the university and he took off — alone
Warren: again — to make his way through Europe — Golly, the jobs he took on in
college to scrape up the money including [laughter] he even emptied
bed pans in a hospital. But he took off with not much more than a
Eurail pass and a brave smile and I can remember Papa Warren saying,
"Well, well, well — isn't that something. I know I'd never have had
the gumption to do a thing like that when I was Jimmy's age."
And then to have the eldest grandson become the first lawyer —
what a way for him to see the next generation start off, huh. Cast
bread upon the waters and — how does it go — it always comes back to
you or something. You can see how often I really did cut Sunday
Stein: Sounds like you got away with it, though. Heaven has still been pretty
good to you, I'd say. Now, let's see, we've already got some good
mileage on Jeff — how about number three son. I love that name "Jocko".
Warren: It certainly fit him growing up. It's "John", of course, but this guy
has been a variation or a take-off on a lot of things ever since he
entered the scene. Hey, I just made sort of a funny without realizing
it because Jocko is in show biz. But Jocko entered a world in turmoil
— I think I mentioned it was June 25th, the very day the Korean War
broke out — and things have never been dull since. [Laughter.]
He started out as an appendicitis operation but, of course, we
didn't know that until it was all over. The doctor had to take him
about three weeks early after an experience Maggie had on that Sunday
afternoon at Bolinas Beach. Whoops — let's get out of that one in a
hurry. [Laughter.] But, really, it was a wild one. We thought the
baby was coming right there. That tortuous walk across the sand —
then a truly god-awful drive over that long, windy road to Kentfield —
then in an ambulance across both bridges to Oakland and Dr. Sherrick
waiting for us and operating the elevator himself. And that's what
it turned out to be — a red hot appendix. Someday I'll let Maggie
tell you the whole story.
Stein: I have a feeling I've heard enough already.
Warren: Well, when I say John is a spin-off — or take-off or whatever I meant —
it's a compliment, actually. He probably bears the least likely sem
blance of his grandfather's — oh, style, I guess you'd call it — of the
three boys. But he has all the talents and aptitudes that are just
not a natural part of Papa Warren's make-up — like being — well, Jocko
is an accomplished artist — he did some pen and ink drawings of the
Napa Valley wineries when he was in high school here that were so good
he had them made into stationery and sold them through local shops —
and he had emerged, some years earlier, from his bedroom with this
Charlie McCarthy dummy and proceeded to demonstrate this incredible
ability to throw his voice that he'd been practicing secretly without
Warren: any of us knowing. He worked up his own routine — his own scripts
and all — and he'd put on this show for the family at Christmas or
whenever and Papa Warren thought he was the greatest thing since
the wheel. [Laughter.]
Then — and this really broke the pattern — John got into Cal — he
made it into the university all right — but on the strength of his art
work and a scholarship award for students in specialized fields. He
was hardly his grandfather's model of the industrious book worm, but
he made it into Cal and that was really big for all of us.
It worked out, though, that when he saw daylight — he broke for it,
And at the end of his freshman year he got a job as a tour guide at
Universal Studios in Hollywood — and he never came home! But somehow
Papa Warren sensed the picture — and he never made Jocko uncomfortable
about it. Sort of like the master mechanic point of view, I guess,
and the books-aren't-for-all-people thing.
But we'll all say this: Jocko had called his own shots and he
sure paid his price — but his grandparents — all of them — and his
brothers sure came to recognize what tenacity and determination are.
Hollywood, you know, is so fickle — every other day there's a new
strike and no work — and so heartless and so insecure. But John
cleaned rugs, found odd jobs, got a few commissions to do art work
and managed, somehow, to keep body and soul together between films.
And today he's one of the most respected location managers on the lot.
He's worked some big network TV shows and, though life is still pre
carious in Lotus Land, he really loves what he calls "The Industry".
And don't ever think Papa Warren wasn't aware. In fact, there always
seemed a sort of special affection there — because of his respect for
their differences rather than their similarities. Which was another
example of the scope of that man. He was something else.
IV GROWING UP IN THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S AND ATTORNEY
Bridging Office and Home
Stein: Yes. I'd like to back up a little and talk a bit more about Earl
Warren as a father, when he was still district attorney and attorney
general. Was there much crossing over between his work life and his
home life? Did he bring work home and were you aware of his work?
Warren: He never at any time in his career, from DA to Chief Justice, ever
brought home any problems, in the sense of foisting them on his
family, as far as his work was concerned. He used to read an awful
lot when he was home, in bed. I couldn't say for sure whether they
were briefs — I'm sure some of them must have been — but the rest of
the time he was reading history or biographies or similar heavy stuff.
He wasn't a western cowboy magazine reader. Everything he read was
heavy. And I just always assumed it had something to do either with
his work or background research or whatever. It never intruded on
his coming home at night and our having dinner and when we all went
to study he went to do what he had to do. I don't remember ever
seeing him in bed without a book or a newspaper or something. He
was always doing two things at once.
Stein: So he went right along with your mother in that respect.
Warren: Yes, exactly.
Stein: I gather there were one or two times when the cases he was prosecuting
as DA were so controversial that there were threatening phone calls to
the home. I wonder if you remember that. One was the Sheriff Becker
case and the other was the shipboard murder case.
Warren: The significance of whatever you heard or read or know is the fact
that none of the kids ever knew it. It was years later before we
ever found out that our parents had these problems.
Warren: I can remember when I first heard it, that I had seen a car
parked up the street a couple of blocks but I didn't pay any atten
tion to it. Sometime later I found out it was somebody keeping an
eye on the house. But none of the kids were ever aware at any time
that there were any problems going on like that.
I always wondered how my mother and dad could keep it in that
much, and not let anybody know. But they really rode over rough
spots for us and we didn't even know they were going on. If we were
being shadowed or trailed or under surveillance or whatever on the
way to and from school, we never knew it. And to this day I don't
know for sure whether we were or we weren't. We may very well have
been and not even been aware of it.
Stein: During the shipboard murder case I think there were pickets at the
house on one or two occasions.
Warren: If that happened I don't remember seeing it. I don't remember any
occasion where I had to come home and walk through a picket line to
get into the house or if there were any crowds or anything.
The only inference I can recall on that score was that I was out
cutting the lawn one day when an old man came along stenciling numbers
on the curbs, repainting the house numbers. It was only a quarter or
something, so I said, "Swell." Ours was all worn out; you couldn't
read it. So I paid the guy a quarter and he painted 88 on the Vernon
My mother and dad didn't even know I did it and I said, "Hey,
look what I've done. It only cost me a quarter and you have a whole
brand new number here." My mother told me later that it was just as
well that we didn't emphasize the number because they didn't want
people to know the address. But that's as far as it went.
Stein: Were you ever aware of your father's position in the community? Did
friends or teachers treat you any differently because your father was
the district attorney?
Warren: If there was a difference it was always one of respect and I was just
totally proud that they knew him and liked him and respected him. I
never got an impression from anybody in those growing up years of any
thing except here was a man who was greatly admired and respected.
Stein: That's what I meant. He had an enormous reputation statewide and
nationwide of being one of the best DA's in the country. I wonder
if that set you apart in school at all?
Warren: No, it just made me feel that I was among friends. Everybody who did
know him had nothing but good things to say and it sure kept the — I
shouldn't say kept the pressure on, but made you aware that, don't
blow it fpr this guy. He's got too good a reputation and don't do
anything that's going to louse it up. We tried to be very careful.
Family Life at Vernon Street
Was he able to be home a lot for dinner and things like that?
work interfere with the home schedule?
I don't recall any extended absences at all. He'd have to go away to
a conference for two or three days, something like that. It was a
pretty organized routine. He'd come home about the same time every
night. If not necessarily the same time, we'd have dinner together
at home almost every night. Or if he didn't my mother would fix a
sandwich in the kitchen or whatever, then dad would come home later
and the kids would stay up. One thing we never did, one thing they
never did do that I found everybody in the world that I've ever known
since has always done, they never had any cocktail parties at home or
entertained at home, just for entertaining. Any time anybody came
over it was — except for Sunday afternoon lunches which were very
casual — there was no, what we've become so used to, business enter
taining, that type of thing. There was never any of that.
That's a very interesting insight.
In fact I never even heard of a babysitter until after I was married,
but then I guess when you look back on it, with all the kids, they
always had somebody in the house. My mother always had help, but not
maid service. They were housekeepers, really. They were there working
just as hard as she was. But it was not in any sense a social advan
tage to have help in the house — they were needed.
Would the help live in?
Yes, always lived in.
I see. So there was always somebody to watch you, if your parents did
happen to be going out. But I gather from what you're saying that they
didn't even go out much in the evenings.
Right, they didn't unless there was an official function of some sort,
which didn't happen very often. My mother avoided everything she
could . [Laughter . ]
One of the things that Earl, Jr., stressed when we interviewed him was
also what you've been saying about how available your father was all
the time, and he told the story of being so amazed when he'd go in to
chat while your father was reading in bed at night, and they'd be
talking about something and he'd suddenly notice that his father had
dozed off for a moment or two, but then he'd wake up and continue the
conversation just as if he never stopped.
Warren: Yes, that happened all the time.
Stein: That seems remarkable to me.
Warren: Yes. Well, he wasn't going to hurt our feelings by cutting off the
conversation but he just was so pooped he'd just fall asleep, then
he'd wake up again and —
Stein: — carry on.
Warren: I remember laughing at the distinction between what I've since learned,
as an adult and married, how everybody else does things. Dad would
come home, and usually the first thing was, "How did practice go
today?" I'd just follow him wherever he was going and we'd usually
end up in the bathroom and he'd reach into the medicine closet there
and pull out a bottle of bourbon. He'd have a couple of drinks while
we stood there, while he was changing his clothes, and this was his
cocktail hour. If Dad had gotten home and we didn't see him, we'd
say, "Where's Dad, Mother?" And she'd say, "Oh, he's up having his
medicine . " [Laughter . ]
My mother's always been a teetotaler. I don't think she's ever
had a drink in her life. I remember one time Dad saying, "Nina,
we're getting low on this bottle here. Would you mind calling down
to the drugstore and ordering some more," you know, restock the larder.
And she would say, "What do you want?" He'd say, "I guess we'd better
get a couple of bottles of bourbon and a fifth of scotch." My mother
got on the phone and called Stier's Drugstore and asked them to please
send up two bottles of bourbon and one bottle of fifths.
Stein: Earlier you mentioned Sundays and I gather that Sundays your father
always tried to give your mother a day off.
Warren: This was always the ritual.
Stein: How would that work?
Warren: Well, usually Sundays, my recollection is — because I was older than
the other kids, at this point, so that what they did and what I did
would be two different things — I'd walk to Sunday school and meet my
cousin. Then as soon as Sunday school was over we'd take off and go
down to the Athens Club and we'd spend all morning in the gym and the
pool. We'd get back at 2:30, something like that, and in the mean
time my dad would have taken all the rest of the kids out to the zoo.
Warren: And we'd all gather back at the house and I remember triple deckers,
deviled egg sandwiches you know, sort of in the middle of the after
noon, and that was the big meal that day. I didn't go to the zoo with
them because I was out of the zoo age. He'd empty the halls, and take
them all out and let my mother have a rest. Something he always looked
forward to and so did she.
Stein: I gather sometimes he took them over to his sister's, Ethel Plank.
Warren: Yes, Ethel Plank. They were very close. This cousin I'm talking
about is Bud Plank, Ethel's son.
Stein: Was he about your age?
Warren: Oh, Bud's maybe four years younger, two to four, I've forgotten. But
we used to manage to walk slow enough that by the time we got to Sunday
school it was all over [laughter]. One time we got caught. One time
we got caught and Mother and Dad found out that we hadn't gone to
Sunday school at all, we had just gone over there and gotten on a
street car and gone down to the Athens Club. My punishment was that
for one month I could not go to a movie, and I don't think I ever
missed Sunday school again.
Stein: I seem to remember that John Weaver tells that story and says that
your father handled that in a very typical style, reasoning with you.
Warren: Yes, he did. He, in effect, let me levy my own punishment. He said,
"This was a very serious breach." And I had to come up with something
that was a real punishment.
Stein: So did you come up with the idea of no movies?
Warren: Well, I guess the fact that he knew I liked to go to the movie every
Saturday afternoon was so important that okay, if that's the thing
that's so important to you then that's the thing that you're going to
do without. There was nothing I could do except acquiesce and agree
that I was wrong and it's fair. I was heisted on my own petard.
[Laughter . ]
He would never, for example, deprive you of such privileges as
going out for practice or take you off the team for a week or any
thing like that, because that could be damaging. That would really
be unfair to the kid. He would always take something that was
obviously innocuous but important to the child.
Stein: When you talked about going off to Sunday school I meant to ask you a
little bit more about your religious education. What church was this
that you went to Sunday school at?
Warren: Golly. At this particular time there was a church that was around the
corner from where the Planks lived. It was a Protestant church; I
don't remember whether it was Episcopalian or Methodist or which.
Then when we were living on Vernon Street we went to the closest
church — I remember the kids did.
My mother's father was a Baptist minister as well as a doctor
and an art anatomist. I understand he illustrated medical books.
Her sister Eva became a missionary, some sort of off-beat faith. It
was a Protestant faith basically, I guess. Uncle Tom was a missionary
in China and was over there with bullets coming through the window and
working with the natives and the tribes and all this sort of thing.
They traveled all over the world.
Aunt Ethel was a practicing Scientist, Christian Scientist. But
I don't think Dad ever — I never did understand the relationship between
his sister being a Scientist and his not. I guess he put down Baptist
as his religion but I don't remember his ever going to church regu
larly. And then when everybody got married it's just a hodgepodge.
We've got every religion in the book in the family. Maggie's family
was Catholic; I'm not. Honey Bear's husband is Jewish. Well, there's
a Baptist thing on my mother's side, I suppose. It just seems to me
that somewhere along the line we've got just about everything you
Stein: It's a real melting pot.
Stein: Backing up to the visits to the zoo, Earl, Jr. tells the story of how
Honey Bear [Nina Elizabeth Warren] got her name. I wondered if you
had your own version of that story. It had something to do with the
zoo and a bear in the zoo.
Warren: What I would be able to repeat would be what I have heard also, because
I wasn't at the zoo that day. But it had something to do, I think,
with Honey Bear seeing this bear and whether or not one of her brothers
said, "Looks like you, Honey Bear," or "You're just like that honey
bear," or whatever, but anyway the "Honey Bear" and the bear and the
girl all seemed to come together at the same place at the same time.
So she's been Honey Bear ever since.
Stein: I think it was Bobby who told us a story of playing a game at dinner,
I guess this is at Vernon Street, when the family would all be eating
dinner together. It was patterned after Information Please, the quiz
show on the radio.
Warren: I noticed your note on that [on the interview outline] and I've
wondered myself what that was.
Stein: The story, as he tells it, is that the family had a sort of a quiz
show where people would be asked questions about current events.
Bobby, because he was the youngest, would act as moderator.
Warren: Maybe I was studying [laughter].
Stein: Maybe you were already at the university.
Warren: Yes. That doesn't bring back a great deal to me. Maybe I was at Cal.
Stein: You mentioned not going to the zoo on Sunday, being too old, but I
gather that all six of you were a fairly close knit family, as children
go, even though you were all so different.
Warren: Oh, yes. I was so elated to have a sister when Virginia was born, I
just couldn't stay away from her. And as each of the other kids came
along it just got better all the time. I remember with Bob — I guess
we're sixteen years apart — but I remember as soon as Bob was big
enough we used to play football with him, and he was the football.
I was in high school and some of the other guys on the team would be
over at the house and I remember we used to get out on this big lawn
and we would almost literally center Bob between our legs and throw
forward passes with him [laughter]. My mother would be holding her
head at the window thinking we're going to drop that child, don't do
The kids were awfully close.
Stein: Do I gather that you played a role in Virginia's name?
Warren: Yes. There was a fellow down at the military academy whose name was
Bob Jones. He was a big, good-looking athletic guy. If I was nine
when Virginia was born, maybe Bob was fifteen or sixteen. He was a
big athlete, and he had a sister who used to come to some of the dances
or whatever, and she was a beautiful girl. Her name was Virginia and
it became my favorite name. So as soon as the baby was born I sug
gested Virginia. That's my recollection.
Stein: That's a lovely story. You mentioned that your father read heavy books
all the time. I wonder if you did any reading or if he encouraged
the rest of the family to read.
Warren: He always encouraged everybody to read, and I think I was his biggest
disappointment on that score. I was either always practicing for some
thing or studying to stay in school. Pleasure reading was something
that — I guess maybe that I had to read so darn much in college in this
philosophy stuff. Everything you read you were going to be tested on
and you'd have to remember and be graded on and all that to the point
that the pleasure of reading just doesn't exist in my life. I figure
if you read something you're studying.
Were you involved at all in the summer vacations at the Uplifter's
We were married, Maggie and I were married, at the time that the family
used to go down there a lot. All of the grunion hunting and what they
now call scuba diving and spear fishing and all that — the family used
to go down there and spend the summer. Ma-ggie and I went down a couple
of times but only after we were married. We never did get in on the
grunion hunts or that type of thing.
So you never spent the whole summer there?
No. I was working in San Francisco and vacations were two weeks at
I see. John Weaver tells a story which I gather he was told by Mrs.
Warren, and I wonder if you remembered it from your end of it. The
story was of Mrs. Warren getting all the children to clean their
rooms, and that as the result of cleaning the room you were then
awarded your twenty-five cents allowance. One week she discovered
that everybody had failed to clean his or her room except you. Your
room was the only one that was clean. She gathered all the children
around the table and piled all six quarters in front of you, saying
that you got the pot that time because you cleaned your room, and
everybody learned their lesson from that. Everybody always cleaned
his room after that. I wondered if you remember that.
Yes, vaguely. I don't discount it or doubt it, but if anybody asked
me to recall that I don't believe I'd be able to repeat it, but it
probably happened. My mother was very devious that way. [Laughter.
I guess devious isn't the word. Indirect, indirect. If she wanted
to make a point she slid it past you rather than hitting you on the
head with it.
The Vernon Street House
Stein: I thought that was a wonderful story. I would like to check out a
little more about Vernon Street. You mentioned that it was a very
large house. Was there a lot of land that went with it?
Warren: It was a great big lot. I wouldn't be surprised if it was as big as
an acre. I know it had a big back yard and a big lawn in the front
and a good size lawn in the back. And then it had an area of just
overgrown shrubbery. That part was just too much to make a garden
But the house — it was pretty massive from the standpoint of having
all the necessary rooms. What were there? I think there were four
bedrooms and a big sleeping porch on the second floor and then upstairs
there was another bedroom, no there were two other bedrooms and a
library. I guess seven bedrooms and a library. That's big. And a
big entrance hall and a big living room and solarium and a dining room
and breakfast room and kitchen. It's in no way an ostentatious house;
it's no San Simeon or anything like that. It was just a big house for
a family with an awful lot of people.
Stein: So everyone had his own room?
Warren: Yes. It worked out everybody finally had his own room. And at 88
[Vernon] Dad had quite a formal library upstairs, with bookshelves
and paneling. He had a desk up there; I used to go up there and
study a lot. Whether he would go in there and study at his desk —
you know in answer to "Did he bring work home?" — if he did I guess
it was one of these times when we'd gone to our rooms to study or
after dinner we'd broken up and gone to do whatever we had to do.
Stein: I gather you lived there yourself after you were married, when the
family had moved to Sacramento.
Warren: We got married during the war and as soon as I went overseas Maggie
stayed there. I think it was good from my mother and dad's stand
point. They liked the fact that they had somebody living on the place
and taking care of it rather than have to worry about renting it out.
Maggie's the one who lived there mostly during the war. And after
the war, when I came back, we stayed there — my gosh, I can't remember
how long. It wasn't very long because we were anxious to get our own
little rose-covered cottage. But we did live there temporarily.
Stein: Just one more thing I wanted to check out about Vernon Street: I've
read that your mother, every Christmas, got a Christmas tree for
every child that was just the height of the child. Were you a part
Warren: The entire basement — it was a big full basement — all finished off so
the whole thing could be used. That's where the Shrine band used to
come every Christmas. There was a great big open room and there was
a Christmas tree for every one of the kids. I was the only one who
didn't open his presents on Christmas Eve, but they wanted to let all
the kids open their presents so they could sleep through the night.
I never broke the tradition, and to this day I hate to open a present
any time but Christmas Day. The kids had their own trees and they'd
all open presents and bring them over and show everybody what they
got, and there would be a lot of huzza-huzza-ing.
Did everybody decorate his own tree?
Or were they left in their
Oh, they were all decorated. I think it got to the point where the
kids decorated their own trees, but I'm not positive.
Jim Warren's Christmas Cards
Stein: Speaking of Christmases, weren't you later responsible for drawing the
family Christmas cards? Could you tell me about that?
Warren: I suppose if any single thing more bespeaks the spirit of this clan
it would be the way those cards originally started. Some gal in
Sacramento did some Christmas cards showing every member of the family
doing something. Sometimes it'd be around the dinner table, sometimes
they'd not be doing much of anything except standing around, but they'd
all be in the Christmas card. So I volunteered myself once — I tried
it first before I spoke to anybody — and made a Christmas card. That
got me into it. I made the Christmas cards for the next five or six
years or so. But just the feeling and the character of those Christmas
cards, I think, tells more about the closeness of the family than
Stein: What would be on a card?
Warren: Everybody in the family and all the animals. I'm not sure that the
annual Warren family Christmas card didn't start a trend. The idea
seems to have been picked up and now everybody and his uncle sends
out pictures of the whole family.
These were drawings and they always had some sort of a theme,
either all the kids were toys on the mantle piece or hanging out of
the socks on the fireplace or dancing marionnettes, or going through
the sky on a sleigh with the dogs wearing antlers like reindeer.
There was one cowboy thing and another with everybody climbing up
and down the chimney.
Stein: Marvelous I Do you still have a file of those cards?
Warren: I've got some of them. Yes.
Stein: Would we be able to borrow them to xerox one or two of them and
include them with your interview?
Warren: Oh, sure.*
See Appendix A
WORLD WAR II AND MILITARY SERVICE
The Fight to Join
I'd like to move on to your own career and family,
did you do?
After UC, what
Well, I graduated in the spring of '41, May of '41. A good friend
of mine, Bill Joost, who was a classmate — we'd been all through high
school and everything else together — Bill wanted to go to Harvard
Business School. He was a very serious student, heck of a nice guy
and all. The next thing I knew— I don't know whether Bill was trying
to talk me into approaching the thing with my dad or whether my dad
thought this was a good idea because of a guy like Bill — but somehow
I ended up going to Harvard graduate school. To me the thought of
going to a business school was — if I was scared about going to Cal
it was like going to another country. I was going to be in an area
I knew nothing about.
On the other coast, too.
You had to take Econ. LA at Cal, I think, as a required course and I
did that. I punished myself by taking a course in statistics, or
whatever — it was accounting, that was the thing, in accounting,
because this was supposed to be bedrock. It's the closest thing
I've ever come to flunking a course in my life. I was completely
a fish out of water in that course. I think the only barely passing
grade I got in college was in accounting. I just detested it. But
here again this is good for you. And Dad would say a business back
ground was good for whatever you were going to do no matter what field
it's going to be in. You ought to think about this thing seriously.
He was willing to encourage it, so I ended up going to Harvard Graduate
School of Business Administration for a year.
Warren: The war broke out when we were back there, but in the meantime
with this elbow I was classified 4-F. So at the end of the first
year I came back to the coast and I tried to — a lot of the guys at
the business school were going into Navy Supply Corps, because that's
where the navy supply school was, at Harvard. And I thought well
maybe I can get a waiver on this elbow and be in the supply corps.
So I applied for supply school and went to work at Mare Island ship
yard for free, for nothing, and I worked there for three months under
the supply officer. Went everyday just as though I were in the navy
to learn the ropes so that if the waiver was granted I would have
that much more experience.
Well, the waiver was turned down. But I can say I was in the
navy for three months, in effect. Then I went down to the draft board
and argued with them some more and finally got reclassified into 1-B
and was drafted into the army. 1-B was limited service. Well, there's
nothing worse than being in uniform and being in limited service, in
my opinion. I was at the Presidio at Monterey, assigned to the Presidio
at Monterey initially, interviewing and classifying recruits coming in.
After three months in the army I applied for infantry OCS [Officers
Candidate School] . Of all the applicants who were applying for OCS I
think I was the only guy who applied for the infantry. All the rest
of them were trying for adjutant general school and quartermaster and
all the Mickey Mouse stuff. I was accepted to OCS but turned down on
the physical again.
I was walking down the hall — as I left the review board — and I
went past a bulletin board twenty-five feet away that said paratroopers
wanted. So I walked into their office and I faked the physical. I
kept talking as I bent over to touch my toes and they weren't looking
at my arm. I was accepted in the paratroopers, which meant an auto
matic promotion from private to PFC [private first class], and I'd
been in the army long enough to rate a ten-day furlough. So on the
furlough I asked Maggie if she wanted to get married. And we became
Then I was to take off for Fort Benning, Georgia. I had my duffle
bag over my shoulder and one foot literally on the train to go to Fort
Benning, when somebody called my name and hauled me off. It turned
out that a fellow who later became a local politician in the area had
heard that I had been turned down for OCS and how come I could be
accepted for the paratroopers if I had been turned down for OCS.
I remember my dad just went through the roof. He thought, for
crying out loud, how could any man interfere in another man's life.
Who's saving who from what. I could walk across the street and get
hit by a truck. A man should do with his life what he wants and for
some guy to step in and think he's going to be appointed postmaster
or something — I've never seen him so mad.
Warren: But then I was transferred up to the Presidio in San Francisco
and commuted to the war on a streetcar, which is the most humiliating
thing you could do. Here we were in classified records, all the
secret documents, top-secret stuff that nobody was supposed to know
about. I remember coming home one night and reading the headlines
in the newspapers that the Americans had hit Kiska [Alaska] and there
were no Japs there. Well, we had gotten this top-coded, secret mes
sage just a matter of hours before. Nobody else in the world knew
this had happened. And here it is in the headlines of the paper on
my way home that night. I couldn't believe it.
I guess I was in the army roughly eighteen months, sixteen to
eighteen months. Somewhere along in that period, a college friend
of mine who was a flyer in the Marine Corps mentioned that you can
be discharged from one branch of the service to accept a commission
in another — or if you're commissioned you can transfer to another
branch for a higher commission. So I went down to the Marine Corps —
here I am a sergeant in the army — and I applied for a commission in
the Marine Corps. They granted a waiver, so I was discharged from
the army to accept a commission in the Marine Corps. I ended up in
an infantry outfit in the marines and got overseas.
Stein: Where did you go?
Warren: Went to Guam. It was secured by the time I got there. We went on a
number of patrols, because there were still a lot of Japs on the island.
I was in a reconnaissance company; snooper-poopers in tennis shoes
behind the enemy lines and rubber boats off of submarines is the type
of thing we were being trained for. But then they mechanized the whole
outfit and instead of reconnoitering a few hundred yards ahead of our
lines, we were supposed to be a few miles out front in jeeps and tanks
and all that stuff. And about that time they dropped the bomb.
So I guess in a way I was in every branch but the Air Corps : in
the navy for three months, the army for sixteen months and the Marine
Corps for a couple of years.
Stein: So you saw your share of duty in the war. When you were at the Presidio
in San Francisco did you have much to do with General John DeWitt?
Warren: He was commanding general; I saluted him on guard duty. As he came
through I would pop to with the rifle and all that type of thing.
Stein: Were you at all involved in the work he was doing about the Japanese
Warren: No. I was in no way — I was strictly in classified records and pulling
You got married somewhere in the middle there, right?
Got married on the tenth of May in '43. Yes. I went in [the army]
on October 2, 1942. Yes. It was the tenth of May, '43.
Had you met your wife in college?
Yes. She was my eighth blind date in a row. [Laughter.] I never
even went out with girls. Of course I went to the functions you had
to go to, the house functions and inter-fraternity events. But I
think over a period of two years I had eight blind dates, and Maggie
was the eighth one.
That's a wonderful story. I gather that she was quite a tennis star.
She was. In the under eighteens [year category] she was national
doubles champ and state singles champ. If she'd won the state singles
championship for the third time, and nobody's ever done that, she
would have had permanent possession of the trophy that Helen Wills
and Helen Jacobs had their names on. Apparently nobody's ever won
it three times going. Yes, she's good.
Does she still play tennis?
Oh, we play a lot of social tennis,
a winner. [Laughter.]
She plays like a man, she's still
[tape 2, side l]
Climbing the Corporate Ladder
Stein: When you got out of the service, what did you do?
Warren: That's when I started looking for a job in the advertising agency
business. I had a couple of friends who were in the business. They
were the first ones I went to see; in fact, I'd been through college
with them. I thought I wanted to be in the art department. At every
place I was interviewed they all said to me, "We can't hire you. You
don't have any experience." You go around that big circle. How do
you get the experience to get hired if you can't get hired unless you
first get the experience.
I heard about a friend of mine who was starting his own agency,
and they were just opening their doors. I went up and I talked — his
name was Phil Boone — and I talked to Phil, and Phil said, "We don't
even have an account yet. The only client we've got is the San
Francisco Symphony. We're doing a brochure for the symphony. That's
where we're starting. So if you want to put a desk over there you
can take on any freelance work that you can pick up along the way and
you've got an office. Anything that comes in here, well, you're our
I'll never forget the first guy that came in from among the
suppliers. He came in and introduced himself as a typographer. I
thought he said topographer and I wondered what map reading had to do
with the agency business. He was talking about typesetting. I mean
I was that green; I knew nothing about it.
It wasn't long before I made up my mind that I just better get
out and spend some time visiting the engraving shops and the printing
houses and taking notes — going through all the processes for repro
ducing art work — to learn the business.
Warren: I was making the handsome salary of a hundred and fifty bucks a
month with one son. I think I got it to $185 and then to $250 when
Jeff was born, but I just couldn't make it on that. And also I wasn't
really learning as much as I ought to.
So I went over and talked to John Hoefer, Jimmy Dieterich and
Jim Brown, who had also opened an agency right after the war. Great
guys, whom I'd known at Cal, also. I went to work for them at two and
a quarter and Maggie almost wouldn't let me in the house. She couldn't
believe I'd taken a job for twenty-five bucks a month less. But it
seemed to have a lot more possibilities. So I worked there a couple
of years, while everybody was starving to death, including the princi
pals. Today, though, Hoefer, Dieterich and Brown, Inc. is one of the
biggest agencies in the city.
I finally decided I have got to make four hundred bucks a month —
I just cannot support my family — if I have to get a job driving a
truck. I looked at some of the big agencies and went to BBD&O [Batten,
Barton, Durstine, & Osborn, Inc.].
I remember Chuck Ferguson was the manager and he said, "Well,
what have you done?" I said, "Well, you know in a small agency you
do everything. I've been an art director, I've been a copywriter,
I've bought some media." He said, "Did you ever sell anything?"
I said, "Actually, one of our clients was Hooper's Chocolates, the
handmade candy place. We were also their wholesale distributors.
So each of us would take one day of the week and we'd load the car
full of candy and go call on retail outlets and try to get distribu
tion for their candy." That's the first time he listened to me, and
it had nothing to do with whether I was an artist or a writer or media
guy or anything else. If I'd sold something I'd had some experience,
so he hired me. I was there for, I guess, about twelve years.
The great corporate world. BBD&O 's clients were the telephone
company and PG&E and Standard Oil and California Cling Peaches, MJB
Coffee, the biggest blue chip accounts on the coast. So I was really
into the great corporate world for a dozen years or so.
Stein: What did you do for them?
Warren: I was an account executive eventually, after the first six months of
a sort of a training program. I was an account executive on the tele
phone account for about eight years, then one year on Bank of America
and two years on Standard Oil.
You get to that great point of no return in the corporate world
where you either decide you're going to go the corporate route and,
if everything goes right, you may become a vice-president, and all
Warren: that sort of business, or make the break. I had seen what had happened
to five guys ahead of me on the Standard Oil account, which was the
biggest account on the coast at that time, I was the number two man
on the Standard account, and from there you either become group super
visor on Standard or else you're transferred to another office, because
there's nothing bigger in San Francisco they could put you on. You
know, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and I had no stomach
The Decision to Leave Advertising
Warren: We, in the meantime, had found this place up here where we now live,
as a little weekend place. I realized that in the Napa Valley every
thing is the land; you've got to be involved with the land in some way
or another, either grow something on it or be part of the land in some
other way. So I went to night school and got my real estate license,
without knowing whether I was going to use it or not, but just as a
precaution, because I could see how things were culminating in the
agency, corporate business. I loved BBD&O but these huge corporations
that were our clients — they're just like the service. Everybody's on
a certain level.
I came to the conclusion that most of the decisions were made on
the basis of fear. Really, people are trying to please the boss or
they're trying to outdo the guy on the same level, and they're scared
to death of the younger people coming up underneath them and they don't
make decisions based on whether it's the right decision but whether
it's the safe decision. After a while this gets to you. So we finally
made our decision. We moved up here and I went into agricultural real
Awfully sweaty palms for the first couple of years.
Stein: By that time you had three children?
Warren: By that time we had all three boys. The third one was born on June 25,
1950, the day the Korean War broke out. You know, everybody's number
was coining up again. We didn't know what was going to happen for a
while. I think they called the guys in my class at Quantico but because
I had gone through this 4-F thing and had come into the Marine Corps as
a commissioned officer, my serial number was lower than the others in
my class. So they called some of them up again but I didn't have to
Stein: That was lucky.
Warren : Yes .
Stein: Did you consult with your father at all about that career shift?
Warren: Yes. Of course I told him what was going through my mind, what I was
thinking about. Again this was another example: it didn't make any
difference whether you're knee-high to a grasshopper or a grown man,
he listened and he counseled but he never advised. I still have the
letter that he wrote some time afterwards saying that, while this is
a decision a man has to make for himself, the one thing he respected
was that once I made up my mind I had the courage to go through with
it. There was nothing better he could have said, nothing that could
have made me feel better than when he said that, because I never knew
whether he thought it was a good decision or a bad decision or a dumb
one or a smart one. He never intruded.
Three generations of Warrens: Governor Earl Warren and his son James C. Warren admire the first
Warren grandchild, James Lee, born in March 1943.
The Warrens with their first grandchild, James Lee, ca. 1946. James Lee's
parents, James C. and Maggie Warren, are in rear.
The James C. Warren family, about 1957. Front row: James Lee, John (Jocko), Jeff. Back row:
James C. , Maggie.
A Warren family gathering at the James Warren ranch in St. Helena, California, Christmas, 1960.
Front row, seated: Tawny (dog); Jeff Warren (James's son); Earl Warren III (Earl Jr.'s son); Nina
Warren; Earl Warren with Ross Warrei) (Earl Jr.'s son) on lap; Wendy Warren (Earl Jr.'s daughter);
John Warren (James's son) with dummy. Back row, standing: James Warren; Maggie Warren (Mrs. James);
John Daly; Virginia Warren Daly; John Charles Daly; Dotty Warren Clemente; Patty Warren (Mrs. Earl,
Jr.); John Neil Daly; Earl Warren, Jr.; Carmen Clemente; James C. Warren.
VII EARL WARREN AS A GRANDFATHER
Stein: Did your children get to know him well as a grandfather?
Warren: Oh yes, yes. In fact, he and my mother made a point as the kids got
to a certain age — it seemed to vary upon how mature the kids were,
somewhere between twelve and fourteen — every summer they would take
one of the grandchildren back to Washington for about two or three
weeks. The kids saw everything there was to see in Washington that
was of any historical moment at all. And that gets pretty heavy when
there are fourteen grandchildren around, and now there are sixteen,
I guess. But every one of the kids of all of the families spent some
time back there to the extent that they could accommodate them. They
got to know their grandchildren as well as it's humanly possible.
And they maintained close contact throughout the years, too. For
example, Dad would have all his grandchildren send him their report
cards and he'd send them a buck for each "A" and, I think, $5 for each
semester they stayed on the honor roll. And there was always a note
of congratulations with each check and a few comments about their
Then every Christmas — I think the happiest season of the year
for them was to come out to California and get the families together
for Christmas. I remember one of the later ones. We, being the
oldest, we started the thing. They'd come to our place first and
then as the other kids got married — eventually we switched around
some and we'd have Christmas Eve at our place and Christmas Day at
Bob's. But for many years Maggie and I had it.
At one of the later ones up here at the ranch, I remember Dad
standing in the kitchen and the whole family running all over the
house and his telling me how much he enjoyed Christmases and how much
it meant to him to be together with the family, and that the one thing
he regretted in his life was that he would never be in the position to
leave anything to the kids; that he had never made any money in public
Warren: service. He said, "You know, in public service you just can't make
any money," and his one regret was, "I have nothing to leave to you
kids." I would have burst out laughing if I hadn't had tears in my
eyes. Because of all the things that anybody can leave to anybody
I can't imagine who could have left more.
Stein: Yes. It seems to me that I came across a couple of newspaper clippings
that mentioned that he was coming out here to play Santa Glaus to the
Warren: Yes. And the numbers kept getting larger every year, of course.
[Laughter.] I used to feel for those photographers who'd have to
come out and get that mob to stand still at the same place at the
same time while they took that picture.
Stein: And smile at the same time. In my reading, I came across some mention
of a letter that your father wrote to one of your sons.*
Warren: That was to Jeff.
Stein: Could you tell me about it?
Warren: I know Jeff has a copy of the letter; I hope we do. Jeff is our
middle son, and he was at Berkeley during all the worst of it,
People's Park and the march, when all of these feelings of social
injustice and the like were so rampant on the campuses. Jeff wrote
his grandfather a letter. Weeks went by and nothing happened, and
Jeff thought he never even got it or Mama Warren wouldn't show it
to him. He thought, "I'll never hear anything back from that." Then
he got the letter.
Stein: What did he say in the letter? What was the gist of it?
Warren: The basic unfairness of racial inequality and unequal opportunity.
Jeff was an athlete and he roomed with black roommates and became
very conscious of all of the things that were going on at the campuses
at that time. It all had to do with the inequality of opportunity
and social injustice and prejudices and discrimination and unfair
treatment of the minorities and all this sort of thing. What a
terrible world it is if these things can go on.
*Excerpts of Jeff Warren's letter, and Earl Warren's reply, are in
John Weaver, "Happy Birthday, Earl Warren; What Say You to Those Who
Come Next," in West Magazine, Los Angeles Times, 3/8/70.
Warren: But the letter that he got back from his grandfather was a classic.
I've seen it reprinted, maybe by John Weaver, in a Sunday supplement,
I'm not sure. But it was worth waiting for. As I say, I don't know
if we have a copy. If we do and you'd like to see it we'd be happy to
let you have it.
Stein: Was this the same son who went to Mississippi?
Warren: Well, this same Jeff went to — he wasn't in Mississippi. He lived with
a black family during the summer. Where was it — one of the Carolinas
— anyway, it was in the south. He was a student teacher involved in
teaching the kids and coaching them and anything that had to do with
this program. It was sponsored by the university I think, or by some
offshoot of the university. But he said it's a real trick to be on
the other side of the line where everyone around is black and you're
the only white one in the room. [Laughter.] At least he had the
courage to do something about it. He and his grandfather were very
Jeff later on went to Europe, after Cal. He worked his way
through Europe, digging ditches and tending bar and making beds or
whatever. A couple of times, when he was there, my mother and dad
were coming through on some sort of official business and they saw
each other a good deal over there. They were very intimate.
VIII POLITICS AND THE WARREN FAMILY
Stein: To switch gears a bit, the last area I want to explore is your
father's political campaigns and his involvement in politics. I
wondered if you ever got involved in any of that.
Warren: All of the boys in the family stayed as far away from that as we
properly could. The girls went on the campaign trips. That's a
different animal. The only thing that Dad ever asked me to do that
I sort of — what's the word; I didn't recoil, I bridled — I didn't
want to have to do, but of course I did as soon as it was explained —
When I was at Cal, I guess they were mobilizing — this is before the
war, but the country was mobilizing and they asked me to pose for a
series of pictures about how you go in and how you volunteer and how
you register and how you sign up and then try on the uniform and all
this sort of stuff and there was a sequence of pictures that came out.
It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do but I did get
involved to that extent. That was not volunteering. [Laughter.]
Stein: How is it that the girls were so active in politics?
Warren: I think for years anybody who knew anything about the family thought
that Earl and Nina Warren had three daughters. I don't think anybody
knew they had any sons.
Stein: Did the girls really enjoy the campaigning?
Warren: I think so. They got to travel around a lot. At some point Maggie
and I joined a campaign train. I think we went up to Oregon. I've
forgotten how we got there, whether we flew up and came down on the
train or what. But this was just being a member of the family and
being aboard; we didn't do anything.
Stein: That must have been when he was running for vice-president in 1948,
because that was the only time he would have been outside the state.
Warren: I guess that would be right. Yes. I'll never forget the night the
[Tom] Dewey-Warren ticket — the night of the election. It was such
a foregone conclusion [that they would win] in the minds of all the
pros, and all the toasts were being made and all that sort of stuff
at the Fairmont Hotel, I remember. But as the returns started coming
in and as it became apparent that the Democrats had swept both houses,
and I guess there was still an outside chance, just a vestige of a
chance, that maybe Dewey might still be elected, I remember Dad saying
it would be wrong for the country. "If we got back there," he said,
"they'd just tear our guts out."
Stein: He was right in predicting the outcome.
Boy, that was a long walk through the corridor back to the parking
lot. But in my own mind I have always thought that what happened
just happened; he had no intention of becoming a vice-presidential
candidate when he went back there. In fact, I remember I was at the
office of BBD&O and Pete Motheral, the boss, came in and said, "Hey,
what's this I just heard about your dad?" I said, "What's that?" He
said, "He's just been nominated for vice-president and accepted it."
I said, "You're kidding; he wouldn't."
I was told of the nomination by somebody else,
thought that it was an obligation or duty.
And I've always
That's what I gather from reading. Were you, in your own political
development, influenced by his being in the Republican party?
Oh, I guess you can't say no to that. Sure. Although, I suppose the
truth of the matter is that when you're a kid growing up you don't
pay attention to it one way or the other; you just sort of do what
your family's doing anyway. You never stop to think about it. But
then his non-partisanship was such a unique phenomenon nobody could
believe that people could be this way. And he really was.
I can remember walking with him along the street during his
third campaign for governor. We were walking up Bush Street in San
Francisco and some fellow coming from the other direction yelled,
"Hey Earl, hi!" Dad replied, "Hello, Charlie," (I'll call him) "how
are you?" And Charlie said, "By golly, Earl, this time we're out to
get you." Earl said, "I know you are, Charlie. You've tried twice
before. That's what makes horse racing. How's Mabel?" "Fine. How's
Nina?" "Fine." And he walked up the street. Dad said, "He's been
the chairman of the Democratic party in California for years." It
was the most friendly, most open conversation, no bitterness, no
nastiness. People just don't believe that men like this are around.
Stein: I've read about Earl, Jr, and the story of his own political
development, when he finally decided to switch to the Democratic
party, feeling that he was still in his father's tradition but
just that the Republican party had moved so far in another direction
that it no longer really stood for what his father stood for.
Warren: That's exactly what Earl thought, and I think Dad always respected
him for it. [Pause.] Now you've probably read this a thousand
times, but he did refer to it so often — whenever anything came up,
no matter how thin you slice it, there's always two sides to a
pancake. He believed it; he lived it.
Stein: One of the things I wanted to check out with you is something that
appeared in the Sacramento Bee where CBS reported that, according
to former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Earl Warren had
been denied admission to Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Warren: You mean before he died?
Stein: This was shortly before he died.
Warren: We heard that, too.
Stein: It was alleged to be because of Nixon's inaction.
Warren: We have heard that story but I don't know where it came from other
than something like that. If that was so it's quite a shocker.
Stein: You have no independent information that would confirm or deny that?
Warren: No. We saw him in the hospital. In fact, we were talking about Jeff
who was working in New York at the time, and still is, in fact. When
Dad had this angina thing — it was known some months before, and he
was cutting down on everything — and then he went into the hospital.
He was in the hospital for a while and when he came home they had
oxygen tanks in the apartment and all that. We'd keep calling and
asking should we come back. My mother would say, "No. There's no
need to come back; he's all right. I'm taking care of him and I don't
want him to start worrying by having the family come from all over."
But then he went back into the hospital once too often, and I
think this was on a Tuesday that I was talking to my mother about him,
and he'd just gone in. Maggie and I talked and I said I'd better get
back there. Maggie couldn't go because her mother was in the hospital,
too. So I called Jeff in New York and said, "I'm on such and such a
flight and I'm coming into Washington tomorrow, Wednesday afternoon."
And Jeff says, "So am I." He didn't know I was coming, and I didn't
know he was going. So we met at the airport and stayed overnight
with my mother. It was too late to go to the hospital.
Jeff and I went down the next morning and we saw Dad, This
would have been on Thursday and we went back again on Friday. He
and Jeff had one of the greatest talks about anything and everything
from sports to the latest decision of the court. The more they
talked the more Dad came to life. And we had that little reading
I alluded to earlier. He was really sort of skin and bones at the
time; he didn't look well at all. But when we left on Friday he
actually stood up and clapped his hands and said, "Well fellas, see
you the next time you're back here."
We came home and he died on Tuesday. This was on Friday. We
were so glad that we got back there. He was really very much alive
and alert. Just physically beat.
That's all the questions I have.
Is there anything you want to add?
Well, Dad told a very interesting little anecdote to Jeff and me the
last time we saw him, how close he came to giving up the law. He
said when he first started practicing he, too, was aware of all the
injustices and the bribes and the payoffs and the things going on
around him. He became very disenchanted at one point. But he was
asked to deliver a letter — he was a courier, I mean acting as a
courier to deliver a letter — to the then-state supreme court chief
justice. He said here he was just a young kid in his early twenties.
He went up to the chief justice's office and opened the door.
He [Warren] said, "I was in this magnificent mansion. Actually
the room wasn't any bigger than this hospital room we're sitting in
right now, but to me at the time it looked like a palace. Here was
this man sitting behind this imposing desk, and he looked up and he
said, 'Mr. Warren?' and I said, 'Yes.' He stood up from behind the
desk, walked around, shook my hand, introduced himself to me. The
impression was so great," he [Warren] said, "that it changed my entire
"What has happened," he said, "is there's such an absence of
manners in the world now, that people just — I'm not talking about
pulling-chairs-out-for-ladies-when-they-sit-down type of thing, but
just open decency and good manners among people." And then he
recounted this story. If this judge hadn't done that he may very
well have become so disillusioned that he would have dropped the
That's interesting. I've read that he had never planned on staying in
the DA's office for very long. He had thought of it as a stepping
Warren: Could be.
Stein: And then he just got so involved that he never left.
Warren: Well, I've always maintained this. Other people have said I'm naive,
and Maggie among them. But I had always contended that he was never
a politician, that he started out as a law enforcement officer. I
had always imagined as a kid growing up that the greatest office
anybody could aspire to, the biggest position in that field, would
be United States Attorney General. I didn't even know it was an
I thought, boy, if you're elected DA, then you're elected state
attorney general and you go from there into the FBI or the attorney
generalship, that's got to be the deepest thing in law enforcement
that you can get into. I had always thought that would have been
his choice and that this whole business of having become governor
during the war was really a matter of having to do something because
the state was in such dire straits when the war was going on that he
changed direction for the duration like everybody else did who got
into uniform. He did what he had to do. And the fact that a polit
ical career came out of it was something that I felt he took on as
an obligation rather than as a matter of choice. But there are a lot
of people, I guess, who don't think that that's the way people are.
As I say, maybe I was just naive.
IX CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN
Stein: There are a lot of people who wonder about his evolution from law
enforcement officer in Alameda County to Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Warren: Yes. And I don't think there's any better example of it than whoever
it was that described — maybe it was John Weaver — that the higher you
go up a mountain the more your perspective changes. You can be the
same person but you see things from a different point of view. His
[Warren's] feeling about representation in northern and southern
California when he was governor was one thing. And when one man,
one vote came later on, which appeared to be a hundred and eighty
degree switch — it's not uncommon in a person like this. You've got
a different job with different obligations — boy, if anybody knew at
the age of twenty-five what he knew at forty-five nobody would make
any mistakes, wouldn't make any bad judgments.
Stein: The remarkable thing is that he seems to have learned from all that.
If he made mistakes or bad judgments or whatever, he seems to have
remembered it all. It all went into the hopper.
Warren: Did anybody talk to Edward Bennett Williams or do you know if anybody
plans to, as far as his most recent years —
Stein: I don't think so. Is he an important person to talk to?
Warren: He's an attorney in Washington. He also owns the Washington Redskins.
He's taken on a lot of controversial clients but he's in the forefront
of the equal justice concept as far as what's fair under the law. Ed
gave one of the eulogies when the court adopted a proclamation [after
Warren's death] and his concept of Earl Warren was just fantastic.
He's what you'd call a lawyer's lawyer. I would imagine that if
anybody wanted to talk to people who really knew the man, Edward
Bennett Williams would be one of the guys you'd want to include.
Stein: Yes, that's a good suggestion.
Warren: Eric Severeid wrote a magnificent eulogy in one of the books about
him. There aren't too many people who knew him — well, I shouldn't
say there aren't too many people. I guess among the people who didn't
know him well you'll get a different reaction than from those who knew
him intimately. People just don't believe that there are men around
who are that decent .
1 don't know if you got it in any of your anecdotes — well, this
is, again, after California, but it shows the mark of the man. The
first time Maggie and I went back to Washington my mother put up a
bed in my dad's library for us. On the wall there is framed his
appointment duly signed by President Eisenhower, his appointment as
Chief Justice, and right underneath it is the original of the Inter-
landi cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker; Whistler's mother
embroidering, "Impeach Earl Warren." [Laughter.] That's hanging
on the wall right underneath the appointment. Mother said, "Dad
thinks it's funny." [Laughter.] But he always did have a really
basic sense of humor.
To meet those justices back there was one of the most inspiring
things I've ever gone through. We went back there for a week. My
mother and dad had given us a couple of suitcases as a Christmas
present and Dad said, "Now Jim, these aren't going to do you any good
sitting in a closet collecting dust. We want you to pack them up and
come on back there and see us." He said, "As a matter of fact, in
January there's a" — this was at Christmas — "in January there's going
to be a dinner back there, the Alfalfa dinner. We can bring guests
to it, so if there's any way you and Maggie can get back there, you're
So we made it work; we made the effort. We went back there and
spent a week. The court was in session and we all went in for the
first day and listened to them and then broke for lunch. Then the
Court comes back again for a couple of hours in the afternoon, which
I did, too. The others did something else. The next morning, and
every morning that I was there, I just went down to the court with
Dad and sat there and listened to every single case that they argued
all day long.
It's an incredible experience. These men are so — if you want to
get an impression of fair-mindedness and openness and decency and what
really looking for a solution to a problem —
I remember being amazed too — Mother and Dad were out here on one
occasion sitting around on our patio up there when the phone rang.
It was for Dad. He came back and he said, "By golly, Nina, they've
appointed Abe Fortas as the new justice." And he didn't even know it.
He got the word after the appointment had been made. He was delighted.
He said, "He's a good man." The goings on of the court, the facts and
the impressions that people have are so different.
Stein: Since you were there watching him every day I thought I'd ask you
this. One thing that a number of people comment on is how warm he
managed to be, even as Chief Justice, despite the enormous formality
of that whole situation: the high bench and the quiet in the room
and the very august surroundings.
Warren: Yes, he was very friendly. He made these attorneys coming up there
just feel at home. They've got to be under an enormous strain,
especially the young ones coming up who haven't appeared there before.
He always made it a point to call them by name , and I suppose if he
could have found anything about them ahead of time he did, to throw
in an anecdote here and there. It's overwhelming in the sense that
the things they talk about are so heavy.
[Tape 2, side 2]
Stein: Is there anything more that we should add? [Long pause.]
Warren: Well, I think probably the thing would be — with the exception of Earl,
who would have some really pithy things to talk about, as far as
mutual or parallel careers or whatever else are concerned — I think
you'd find that with the boys most of it was just what an uncommon
thing it was to have a father like that, of such prominence, who was
also such a regular guy. Also the fact that he always encouraged
everybody to go his own way , to go after his own bent without any
sort of arm twisting, and this whole concept of don't ever settle for
being average. I don't care what it is that you do, but when you do
it, do it better than anybody else. These were never pep talks; they
were just good solid guiding principles.
Stein: Well, I'd like to thank you for spending the whole afternoon tape-
recording. It will be a valuable addition to the Warren project.
Transcriber: Michelle Guilbeault
Final Typist: Marilyn Ham
INDEX — James Warren
Becker, Burton, 24
Boone, Phil, 39
Brien, Nina Warren, 14, 29, 46
Brown, Jim, 40
Daly, John, 2
Daly, Virginia Warren, 2, 8, 30, 46
Del Monte Military Academy, 5
Deutsch, Dean Monroe E., 18
Dieterich, Jimmy, 40
Ferguson, Chuck, 40
Fortas, Abe, 52
Goldberg, Arthur, 48
Harlan, John Marshall, 11-12
Hitchcock, Harold, 10
Hoefer, John, 40
La Junta Club, 20
Meyers, Cleve, 7
Motheral, Pete, 47
Nixon, Richard, 48
Palmquist, Eva, 29
Palmquist, Nana, 4
Plank, Bud, 28
Plank, Ethel, 28, 29
1948 presidential, 47
1950 gubernatorial, 47
Severeid, Eric, 52
shipboard murder case, 24
Shor, Toots, 16
University of California at Berkeley:
Golden Bear, 17-18
Skull & Keys, 18-19
Winged Helmet, 17
Warren, Dorothy, 46
Warren, Earl, ' 1-2, 6-7, 11-14, 16-33, 36, 42, 43-45, 48-53
as chief justice, 11-12
as district attorney and attorney general, 24-25, 49-50
political campaigns, 46-47
Warren, Earl, Jr., 12, 26, 29, 48
athletics, 9-10, 19
career in advertising, 39-42
career in real estate, 41-43
military academy, 4-8
military service, 35-37
public school education, 8-13
University of California, 15-20
Warren, James, Jr., 3, 21-22
Warren, Jeff, 18, 19, 21, 40, 44-45, 48-49
Warren, John (Jocko) , 21-23
Warren, Margaret, 1, 7, 21, 31-32, 36, 38, 43, 48, 50, 52
Warren, Nina, 1-4, 6-7, 21, 25-27, 31-32, 46, 52
Warren, Nina "Honey Bear". See Brien, Nina Warren
Warren, Robert, 12, 14, 29-30, 43
Warren, Virginia. See Daly, Virginia Warren
Weaver, John, 2, 19, 28, 31, 51
Williams, Edward Bennett, 51
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Earl Warren Oral History Project
Earl Warren, Jr.
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright (c) 1980 by The Regents of the University of California
Earl Warren, Jr.
TABLE OF CONTENTS — Earl Warren, Jr.
INTERVIEW HISTORY i
SCHOOL AND COLLEGE YEARS 1
Life in the Governor's Mansion 1
The Warrens' Southern California Residence 11
College at Davis 13
Decision to go into Law 17
ENTRY INTO THE POLITICAL WORLD 20
First Campaigns of Earl Warren, Jr. 20
Democratic and Republican Parties Compared 22
CIVIL LIBERTIES AND EARL WARREN 31
PRESIDENTIAL RACES 40
1948 Race 40
1952 Race 42
THE REPUBLICAN RIGHT WING 44
EARL WARREN AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS 47
Robert Kenny 47
Fred F. Houser 48
Harry Truman 49
Tom Kuchel 50
THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE 52
GOVERNOR WARREN AND THE UNIVERSITY 56
Use of Expertise 56
The Loyalty Oath 56
Max Radin's Appointment 57
APPENDIX - Interview with Earl Warren, Jr., on his father's career,
retirement, and family life. Sacramento, 1969 64
DATE OF SESSIONS: July 8, 1970, and two separate sessions the following day.
PLACE OF SESSIONS: Judge Earl Warren, Jr.'s Sacramento municipal court chambers.
THOSE PRESENT: Judge Warren and the interviewer.
Born in 1930, Earl Warren, Jr., son of the chief justice, was a prime target
for the Earl Warren Oral History Project not only because of his family but also
because he had already attained significance in his own right in two fields:
animal husbandry and law/politics. After following a bachelor's degree to its
ultimate promise in agronomy and animal husbandry, he returned to school, won
his law degree, entered private practice then Democratic politics. In 1960,
he worked for Kennedy, and in 1962 he flew and spoke up and down the state for
Democratic governor Pat Brown. He settled onto the bench in the municipal court
of Sacramento in 1966.
The interview sessions were marked by his ability to answer questions with
a forthrightness and sense of propriety reminiscent of his father but with a
more open approach. He seemed to feel little ambivalence about taping for
history and cleared his calendar, except for times court was in session, so we
could proceed from beginning to end during a single trip to Sacramento by the
interviewer. We sent a rough-edited transcript to him March 12, 1971, and with
exceptional alacrity for an interviewee, he returned it, reviewed, ten days later
with the note, "I don't think I did any violence to it — merely cleaned it up so
that it more accurately portrays the intended thoughts." Because the page numbers
of his copy had not been corrected to correspond to the Regional Oral History
Office's chaptering, the location of some of our specific questions were obscured;
a short conference over the manuscript April 20, 1971, resolved these tag ends
and the manuscript was final-typed shortly thereafter.
But his role as interviewee was only a part of the invaluable aid he afforded
the project. When the project first came alive, Judge Warren held an advisory
conference with us July 9, 1969, in his chambers, as one of those to help judge
who, among ten pages of names, was closest to his father and where they were.
We also discussed the rough outlines of his own potential recording at that time.
("My memory of Dad's life and public affairs begins about 1935," reads my note
on that session.)
The largest and perhaps most important undertaking was one he agreed to do
not long after his father died, leaving his own 800-plus page transcript unre-
viewed. At this point Earl Warren, Jr., read through the manuscript (the same
copy that Governor Warren's former departmental secretary, Merrell F. Small, had
just finished reviewing and annotating). Except for one minor correction, Judge
Warren gave the transcript an OK for final typing to the understandable relief
and unending gratitude of our staff.
Earl Warren, Jr.'s own transcript has been held in limbo because the
opportunity arose to interview, one by one, three more of the Warren family,
and plans were correspondingly revised to put all four transcripts together
as one volume and release them simultaneously.
Here, then, is the interview with the first willing narrator from Earl
Amelia R. Fry
22 October 1979
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
Earl Warren, Jr.
(Interview 1 - July 8, 1970)
SCHOOL AND COLLEGE YEARS
Life in the Governor's Mansion
Fry: According to my notes, you were born in January in 1930.
Fry: Where were you born, in Oakland?
Warren: I was born in Oakland, yes.
Fry: And you went to public schools, right?
Fry: You always had plenty of brothers and sisters around — I'm vague
on the stair-steps in your family —
Warren: I'm almost in the middle. I have an older brother, Jim, and an
older sister, Virginia, and then two younger sisters, Dorothy and
Nina, and my brother Bob, who's the youngest.
Fry: I think Irving Stone told me that you kids didn't know that Jim
was your half-brother until the first book was about to come out
on your father in 19^8. Is that true?
Warren: I don't know about all the children. I_ knew about it earlier
than that. I was a pretty good rummager, and as I recall I had
run across some photographs or something of that sort, and also a
couple of names that I had not seen before, and I made inquiries
and found out at that time. I was about, maybe 10 or 12, at that
Fry: Yes. That would have been earlier than the Stone biography.
Warren: But that was of no particular significance to us. [Laughter]
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: It probably wasn't as significant to you kids as it was to the
older generation, which generally felt it was an important and
delicate matter .
Warren: No. It never was. It never was a secret. It just hasn't made
a bit of difference at all that I know of.
Fry: Whatever pre-school life was like that you'd like to have go on
tape, we'd like to have your account. Did you go to nursery
Warren: No. Pre-school was great. Just a lot of play in a comfortable
neighborhood. Lots of children our own age, and very tranquil.
Fry: Then you started attending — what was the name of the school, do
Warren: I went very briefly to Crocker Highlands School and then went to
Lakeview Grammar School for the rest of the primary schooling.
Then I went briefly to Westlake Junior High, in Oakland. That
was very brief because we then moved to Sacramento, and I went to
California Junior High here, and then McClatchy High School.
Fry: When do you remember having definite interests in school, where
one subject seemed to be a favorite?
Warren: Oh, I think in kindergarten I was very interested in certain
things. I learned to read early.
Fry: You mean before you went to school?
Warren: No, in school. But reading was fascinating, and it came easy,
fortunately. So that opened many other doors, and I became very
interested in science early. I read a lot of books — advanced
books — when I was young, and I became extremely interested in
Fry: Oh, is that right? And this continued all through your school?
Fry: Right up to the present? Do you still have a hobby in science?
Warren: Oh, yes, I do a lot of things in the scientific area, although
frankly now I consider myself basically a social scientist, as
compared with, let's say, the physical biological scientist I
considered myself before.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: I went to Davis and studied agriculture because of my liking for
the physical sciences, and also a liking to apply things that are
basic, so to speak. I like the out-of-doors and I always wanted
to do things from the ground up — I never felt comfortable start
ing someplace along the line. I always liked to start from the
most common denominator, I guess you'd say, and then work my way
up, building as I went. That's the only way that I feel very .
Fry: You mean you would want, if you're studying science, to recreate
the Boyle's law experiments from scratch, or do you mean that you
like to read the basic readings in an area, and build on them
with more specific ones later?
Warren: Well, both. I suppose if I was going to create a chemical com
pound, for instance, I would probably prefer to mix the sodium and
chlorine myself rather than start out with the salt, initially.
Uiat type of approach. [Laughter] And I would rather have the
basic things firmly done before proceeding on to something else .
In law, I feel much the same way. I think that, for instance,
we should be talking about the spirit in which a law was conceived
as being the most important thing — not the law as we presently see
it in its hard, absolute form. I have since learned, of course,
that that's my father's philosophy also, so perhaps I got this by
induction — I'm not sure.
Fry: Or osmosis?
Warren: Yes. And I like to think in terms of the basic laws in the United
States. We have our basic laws in the Constitution and the Decla
ration of Independence, and the spirit with which these great
institutions were devised. It makes it easier, I think, to oper
ate within more refined areas, so to speak, that spring out of
these things if you understand what took place below. I've found
it a great asset, but it's also a very controversial position to
Fry: But you're defining the meaning of the law in terms of the times
in which it was put on the books. Is that right?
Warren: Yes. And what was intended by it.
Fry: Were you involved in junior high or high school politics? Did you
run for office?
Warren: Oh, I was very active, but I suppose I shied away from running for
the major offices, simply because my father was prominent.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: He was governor by then, is that right?
Warren: Yes. The male ego being what it is — very fragile and very demand
ing — a boy generally wants to be known for himself so he will try
to do those things where he feels that he can feel comfortable in
knowing that whether he's liked or disliked it's for himself and
not for his father or for somebody else in the family. So I feel
now in looking back that that's the reason I did not run for any
of those offices. But I was very active; I was editor of the
school paper, as I recall, and the yearbook, and valedictorian,
and a number of other things. I was always very active in school
activities and I played athletics, of course.
Also it seemed to us children that we were always engaged in
one continuous campaign, and I suppose this is why we didn't really
want to get involved in any more campaigning than was necessary.
Because there were meetings constantly, people coming over, our
pictures being taken for this and for that. At least from the
time Dad was Attorney General (by that time I was only about 7 or 8
or 9)> it just seemed like one constant campaign. That was more
public exposure than I particularly wanted, and, I think, probably
more than most of the kids cared for. So most of us weren't very
anxious to do very much more of an elective nature .
Fry: As I went through the governor's mansion this morning, I wondered
about that, and how much privacy there was there, and, in view of
the present governor's attitude against living in the mansion, I
wondered if the neighborhood around it has changed. It does seem
to be sort of crowded-in upon now, with motels and businesses.
Warren: It was an older neighborhood at the time we were there, but we had
the same disabilities — noise, commercialism, and the fact there
were no children in the area. It was not what you would call a
residential area even then, and there was a big market across the
street, and gas stations, and so forth. The mansion has been
encroached upon even more since then, and it's unfortunately in a
little pocket. I always wished they would make a park around it,
at least that block, and preferably a couple of blocks, and really
make it into what it was intended to be. But things haven't changed
quite that dramatically since then. It always shook from cars
going by, and trucks going by, and it was noisy.
Fry: Where did you kids play?
Warren: Oh we played all over the city. [Laughter] Any place. If there
were five of us we were off in at least five different directions,
at any one time . And we played at home . There never was a feeling
of a lack of privacy.
Fry: There wasn't?
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: No. We felt very private at home.
Fry: Well, it does seem like all the public rooms are on the first
floor, and above that —
Warren: And we operated it like a home. We had our friends in when we
wanted, and nobody imposed on anybody else. And when there were
receptions, people weren't running around upstairs unless we were
notified ahead of time . We had as much privacy as any home would
ever have, I guess.
Fry: Helen MacGregor tells of sometimes coming over through the day
when she and your father had something to bang out together —
coming over into the relative privacy of the study in the gover
nor's mansion — and an occasional blonde head bobbing up in the
door, and your father saying, "Now, just wait. You have to wait
until five o'clock I Then I'll be with you! [Laughter]
Warren: I don't remember that.
Fry: You don't remember any of that?
Warren: No, in fact it doesn't even sound like him. Because what —
Fry: I got the reverse story then from, I think, Oscar Jahnsen, or
somebody, who said that your father never would bring his work
home. That when he was home, he was home.
Warren: That's only partly true also, because Dad frequently brought work
home. The part I dispute is his saying, "Wait," because the one
thing that is truly amazing about my father is he always seems to
have time for everybody. I don't think any father was ever manda-
torily away from his family more than he was, and yet I don't sup
pose there ever was a father that was as much there all the time.
I can never remember a time when he said to me, "Not now, later."
Fry: Is that right?
Warren: I'm sure the other kids feel the same way about it. And most
everybody who really knows him feels that way. It's one of those
rare qualities that very, very few people possess, but he has it.
He has the ability to make you think that he has only your inter
est in mind at the particular time.
Fry: Yes. He zeroes in.
Warren: And as a consequence, it only takes a moment for him to do some
thing that would otherwise take a long time. And you always feel
satisfied. So, although he may have been a physically absent father
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: most of the time, when he was there everything counted and there
never was a time when we felt neglected or felt he was gone.
Fry: This is the thing I always was so skeptical about. I kept picking
up all these stories about how he was with the kids a great deal:
the Sundays when he took the kids out and things like this. And I
thought, how can a man in the positions that he's held be with his
kids like that?
Warren: I don't know. He just could make every moment — not every minute,
but every moment — absolutely full and absolutely efficient. I
don't know how he does it either. He used to bring — he still does
— his work home all the time, and reads in the middle of the night.
But, again, he's one of these people who can fall asleep whenever
he decides he wants to fall asleep, and he can wake up whenever he
wants to wake up. When he wakes up he's just as clear-headed as
he was before he went to sleep. I have come home after a date
when I know he's been absolutely exhausted — maybe 1:30-2 o'clock
in the morning — and stopped by his room, because he'd be studying
in bed, and talked to him, and finally he'd be so exhausted that
he would simply fall asleep. And then I have walked by, maybe
four or five hours later in the morning on the way to school, and
he would hear me walking by and wake up and finish what he was
talking about the night before. He would resume the conversation
immediately — no yawns, no stretching — just take right off in the
middle of the sentence, or wherever he was and go on. He just has
that type of mind. In a car on the way to a meeting he could drop
his head and nod for a few minutes — five minutes — ten minutes.
This is probably a major reason why he has such tremendous stamina.
Fry: Yes. That's how he's able to go and travel at night and make his
speeches during the day on those terrible schedules he used to
Warren: Yes. And he has an even nature all the way along, you know. His
mood does not change .
Fry: It doesn't? That was another thing I was wondering about?
Fry: His office staff said that only occasionally would his temper flare,
Warren: Well, if his temper flared —
Fry: No matter how much the pressure —
Warren: Right. If his temper flared, it flared for a reason, and it made
no difference whether he was rested or tired or what had preceded
it — it was always on that particular issue. If he was angry on a
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: subject, he would have a right to be angry, or it would be the
type of thing that would make him angry at any time, under any
Fry: Yes. He wouldn't bottle up, and then get angry at some small
Warren: Right. He isn't the type of person where you see things welling
up and the strain showing. Conversely, he was never of a mood
where you felt anything went because he was particularly happy.
He's the most even-tempered person I've ever seen.
Fry: So you kids didn't have to tiptoe around because father is tired
and irritable tonight?
Warren : Never . Never .
Fry : Marvelous .
Warren: We never thought of him as being tired or rested or grumpy or
happy. He was just the same person all the time. With one
Warren: And this is in later years. When he was working on the Kennedy
Commission it was obviously a terrible, terrible drain on him. I
was personally very fearful for his health at that time. He was
carrying three tremendous jobs. He was carrying the job of a
justice of the Supreme Court, he was carrying a tremendous burden
on the administration of the courts at that time, and every other
available moment he was spending on the commission, and doing
tremendous research in the background on it, too. For the first
time, strain really, really showed. Of course, he was living that
tragic event over every moment. It had been a heart-rending thing
to him initially anyway, that it was really quite cruel for him to
have to go through it again and again.
Fry: Talking more about family recreation, somewhere I picked up a note:
Sundays in Oakland with Aunt Ethel Plank in the park. Do you
remember anything like that?
Warren: Yes. We used to spend a lot of time, when we were very little, in
the parks in Oakland, and we used to go to the zoo very frequently.
In fact that's how Honeybear got her name.
Fry: Was this the San Francisco zoo?
Warren: No, it was the old zoo in Oakland. It's no longer where it was.
There's a new zoo, now. Up in the hills. About the time Honeybear
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: was born — just after she was born — we went up to see the zoo, and
there was an animal there called the honeybear. There really is
such a thing as a honeybear. But the honeybear had a little box
in the cage, and it had a little round hole that it went in and
out — sort of like a bird house . All we ever saw of the honeybear
was a big bunch of blonde fur spilling out of this hole, because
he slept with his back to it — almost all animals sleep with their
back to the opening. And so that's all we ever knew of the honey-
bear. Well, when Nina came along — and she'd be asleep in bed,
she'd always pull her head down, and all we'd see was a bunch of
blonde hair coming out from underneath the covers. So she got the
label, Honeybear. [Laughter] Now some people thought that she got
the name from a book for there was a book that was very popular just
before that time called HONEYBEAR, or something like that . But the
naming didn't have anything to do with that. It came strictly from
Fry: Well, I guess this note was an allusion to the fact that when your
father would take the kids out on Sundays to give your mother a
rest, you'd go visit your aunt, who also lived in Oakland.
Warren: Oh, we used to go visit her a lot. We sure did.
Fry: And did your grandmother live there with Ethel Plank at the time —
Warren: No. She had her own apartment in Oakland.
Fry: Could you give us some idea of the kinds of recreation, or games
or something that you kids used to play with your father or without
Warren: Oh, we played most everything.
Fry: There's a note about "information, Please," with Bobby as quiz
Warren: Oh, well — [Laughter] — at the dinner-table later on, as we got
a little bit older, we used to play "information, Please," and all
kinds of quiz games, because of course that was the quiz era. And
riddles, and anything anybody wanted to--
Fry: Sounds like sneaky education to me! [Laughter] This is what I do
with my kids to make them think a little .
Warren: Yes, but I think it was more than that. Mostly the kids prepared
Fry: Did you ever get any help on your homework or anything like that?
Warren: From my parents? No.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Maybe not help on an assignment, but help on whatever project you
were doing in school — your "unit." I was just wondering if there
was a lot of parent participation with your schoolwork.
No. It really wasn't possible. They just weren't there that often.
So generally, we found other sources if we needed help. Of course,
they'd always see, if we needed help that we were steered in the
right direction. But the kids were pretty good students. And in
those days we didn't have homework like they have now. It wasn't
nearly as ferocious as it is now.
Yes. That was before Sputnik.
I was also going to ask you a little bit more about the
mansion, since I went through it. I understand it was refurbished
about 19^-3 3 at least there are some newspaper articles about it.
Yes. My mother did all that, with Oscar Jahnsen and a few other
people . It was in terrible shape . I mean really horrible .
Oh, yes. The front porch fell in — they hadn't used it for years.
Even big things like that were dilapidated. It was in really very,
very bad shape .
It seems to be in beautiful shape now.
It's in good shape, except the third story, which, from the trucks
and cars rumbling by, has great big cracks that run up the wall.
It does get a pretty good shaking.
Yes. What's up there on the very top?
Nothing. Just a little bitty room. I understand that a long time
ago they used to occasionally play cards up there. That's quite a
Yes. I could imagine it as a hiding -out place for some kid who
wanted to get away and read a book or something like that .
It could be, but we didn't use it. One of the things about the
mansion that really, I think, impresses everybody is that even if
you just confine yourself to the first and second stories, which is
practically where you live anyway, those stairs are ferocious.
[Laughter] And generally we used the back stairs anyway, which are
almost straight up and down. You probably didn't see them, because
they don't let people —
No, I guess I didn't go down those stairs.
Earl Warren, Jr.
I can remember that even when I was in the very best of shape
playing football in high school, running up and down those stairs
a number of times really was a pretty good workout . And if some
body — fortunately for us nobody had any disability — but if some
body had had a disability I imagine it would be quite an onerous
Yes. Poor Olson. I guess he was just confined to the —
Well, he didn't live there much.
Oh, didn't he?
The only person who lived there any really substantial time prior
to us was Young. Olson did live there to a very limited degree,
but mostly he lived away. There was a belief at that time that
there was a requirement that you live there six months out of the
year, or something like that. It was thought to be the law — that
you had to do it. But, basically, Merriam, and Olson and Rolph
didn't live there. They lived at the Sutter Club, or Elks, or in
apartment houses. Oh, they'd come by, and they'd have their
parties, and I do know that some of Olson's family lived there at
least briefly. But I don't think he used it very much. The guards
who had worked there — we had guards who had worked there since
Young's time when we first went there. They could remember back,
and of course they were delighted to have people around. [Laughter]
Yes. But they told us that there was practically no use made of it
at all since Young's term.
Well, it's kind of fun to look at from the outside, but when you
get inside it's really beautiful, with those marble fireplaces —
Yes. It's much the same as we fixed it up. Virginia Knight was
interested in the house, and she re-did the kitchen and she made a
few other minor changes, but basically she kept it the same. She
was a sweet soul, and rather sentimental, and she liked to keep
things much as they were — not change them drastically. We had a
very archaic kitchen. It was sort of a barny thing with a great
big old black stove in it — very unwieldy for anybody working there —
Virginia changed that. And since that time it's only had minor
changes made to it. The Browns put in the pool, and made a few
minor changes inside. The Reagans didn't do hardly anything.
Yes. Where did you kids go to swim?
Surely everybody in
Yes. Dad belonged to the Del Paso Country Club then and we did
most of our swimming out there, although we swam at all the public
pools and in the rivers.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: That sounds like fun. The rivers were very clean, at that time, I
The Warrens' Southern California Residence
Fry: When I was going through some of the files over at the California
State Library, there was something that I picked up: In the
Sacramento Bee of October 25, 1960, an article was headlined,
"Earl Warren, Jr., works as deputy county clerk." When were you a
deputy county clerk?
Warren: When I was waiting for the results of the bar exam to come back,
and I worked as a deputy clerk here .
As a kid, I worked as a gardener a lot. When I was in law
school I worked one summer for the district attorney's office in
Fry: That must have been interesting, in your father's old haunts.
Warren: I did commercial diving and commercial fishing, and was a lifeguard
for several years — beach boy.
Warren: Stunt man for the movies.
Fry: Good heavens.
Warren: That was mostly in Southern California, during summers. I had my
own little sea urchin processing company, the only one this side of
the Orient. I had three Japanese partners at the time.
Fry: How do you process sea urchins?
Warren: The sea urchins are those purple, prickly things. They're practi
cally hollow, except that they have two layers of eggs inside that
are very highly prized by the Asians and by Italians . The Portuguese
eat them to some extent, but mostly the Italians and Chinese and
Fry: Did you get into this while your family would be living at the
Warren: The Uplifters' Club? [Laughter]
Fry: The Uplifters' Ranch, yes, in Santa Monica —
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Is that how you developed your Southern California jobs?
Warren: Yes. We used to stay down there all summer.
Fry: Maybe you could explain to me what the Uplifters' Ranch was. Was
that kind of a club?
Warren: I think it was formed either in the teens or the '20s, and initially
it was a club. It was called the Uplifters 1 Club. At first it was
sort of a retreat for men. And then they began to build homes in
the area. But even long after that they used to have Bohemian
Grove type of retreats for the men. Die women weren't allowed in.
This continued into the thirties, when a lot of these wealthy
people apparently went down the tubes, or nearly so, in the Depres
sion. Then the setup began to disintegrate, and by the time we
started going there they still called it the Uplifters 1 Club, but
it wasn't a club. It was just a very heavily wooded area where
they had private homes. We had some friends who owned what they
called a cabin there, and they loaned it to us in the summertime
because they didn't use it then.
Fry: Oh, I see. So it was really a retreat-in-the-woods type of thing.
Warren: Well, not really. Not by today's standards, it wouldn't be con
sidered very far out, because it was all built up around there,
and since then it has built up almost solid. But it was in a
Fry: Was this kind of a family summertime arrangement?
Warren: Generally speaking we stayed there all summer. Dad wanted to be
sure he kept a strong political base in Southern California. He
saw where Southern California was going very early in the game —
long before anybody else did, and wanted to make sure that he had
plenty of roots down there as well as up North.
Fry: You mean in population growth he saw where it was going, or in —
Warren: Population growth and in power. In political power. He wanted to
be sure of two things: One, he wanted to be sure he understood
that area and recognized it, which he did; but also he recognized
the political punch that was inherent there and wanted to be well-
known in Southern California.
Fry: What sports did you participate in? With your father's abiding
interest in football and so forth —
Warren: I primarily played football.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: You did? That must have given your father a great deal of pleas
ure . [Laughter] I'm sure he never missed a game. Is that right?
Warren: He couldn't see them all, but he went to every one he possibly
could. We had a good team, too. We had probably the best high
school team in the country at that time . We won the championship
and had about a dozen fellows that went on to professional ball.
Fry: I always ask people I interview, too, what sort of magazines and
reading material were lying around in the house that they were
particularly interested in as they grew up.
Warren: Well, we had a pretty good exposure to various periodicals. I
suppose they would be the ones, though, that are mostly found in
every home . You know, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post —
Fry: The general, popular magazines and newspapers?
Warren: Yes. Nothing exceptional that I can think of, although Dad always
had so much reading material that we could have read most anything
we wanted, I suppose.
Fry: Probably overwhelming.
[The following exchange was not recorded -
Verbatim dictation 4/20/71:]
Warren: Yes. We had a very general library, very extensive, all the
classics, and of course politics. Dad was primarily a non-fiction
reader, a lot of histories, sociological studies, all these things
that would seem to bear on his work.
Fry: Mysteries to unwind?
Warren: No. He never unwound really because he never got wound up in the
first place. He was remarkably stable. After a hard day's work on
one problem, he could come right home and read a heavy book on it.
Also, he never made us change the subject in conversation. He
was always willing to exhaust the subject as much as we wanted to.
College at Davis
Fry: And then did you stay at Davis for your four years?
Warren: Yes. I was at Davis all four years.
Fry: Then did you graduate in agriculture?
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: Yes. I was an animal husbandry major, and I graduated in agri
culture . Then I worked for a year on farms in Yolo and Solano
Counties as a farm hand, farm worker, and then went on active
duty with the army. After that, I worked several years as a Farm
Advisor in Alameda County.
(Session 2 - July 9, 1970)
Fry: One of the things that I missed asking yesterday was about your
life at Davis. You say that you were interested in the physical
sciences, and so you took agriculture. I thought agriculture was
the biological sciences.
Warren: Partly. The training for agriculture at Davis, or the University
of California, is basically the same as a pre-med course for two to
three years, and that's mostly the basic sciences. It does get in
to the biological sciences, of course, but there is a lot of math,
a lot of chemistry, and things of that sort.
Did you have any outside
Fry: And so you went on through that course,
Warren: Oh, yes. And I was Picnic Day Chairman.
Fry: Oh, you were?
Warren: Yes. The day the wind blew. [Laughter] We always feared rain.
Picnic Day chairmen, ever since the event had been started about
50 years before, had feared rain. And rain was predicted for our
day. The morning of the session, it was just as ready to rain as
it could possibly be. But about six -thirty in the morning we
noticed a little breath of air starting to stir, and everybody
cheered, and within an hour the wind was blowing strong enough to
start moving the clouds away and we were terribly elated. However,
by the time the parade started at ten o'clock it was in the 70-mile
an hour category and tore all the floats apart, and it looked like
an atom bomb had landed in the horse arena because of a cloud of
dust that was going about 200 feet in the air. It was a complete
disaster from a natural environment standpoint, but we had a good
day anyway. [Laughter]
Fry: Oh, really?
Warren: Sure. This was when they still had the world's largest high school
track meet there. Those fellows who were running the 100-yard dash
with the wind were doing it in about 8 seconds. Of course if you
ran it against the wind you were doing it in about 15 or 20!
Fry: Had a lot of world's records broken that day? [Laughter]
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: We had all sorts of bizarre things happening.
Fry: You must have made some awfully good friends with things like that
happening; you go through them together.
Warren: Oh, yes. That was a great campus and still is.
Fry: Yes. I guess it's always been my favorite campus, except right now
it's really getting crowded.
Warren: I was told that last year they had more applicants than they had
combined at Berkeley and UCLA.
Fry: I'll bet they did.
Warren: It sounds fantastic, but I verified that with a high officer.
Fry: Did you run for any offices, or anything like that?
Warren: I was very heavily engaged in student activities. In those days
the student body, or the actual governing of the college, was a
joint venture by students and faculty partly through undisclosed
Fry: That sounds sinister.
Warren: It sounds sinister, but it was not. These groups of faculty and
students had been formed years before, and they pretty much decided
how the school was to be run, even to the point of who would be
asked to run for the offices. And largely the person who was
selected by these groups ended up being elected. It was really a
highly democratic thing, even though it sounds like it was exactly
the opposite. If difficult things had to be done, they would
suddenly just be done. And nobody knew where or how it was done,
but it was done. This ran a wide gamut, and it was really quite
Of course we had a very social campus, we had a tremendous
number of organizations of all types, and they were very active.
Fry: Yes. Do you mean that these were combinations of political groups?
Fry: Well, did they have continuity through the years?
Warren: Oh, yes. Tremendous continuity.
Fry: With a formal officer structure, and things like this? Or were
they just people that a professor might call in or that campus
leaders might get together?
Earl Warren, Jr.
No, these were groups that acted by consensus, and generally by
just almost plain unanimity. It was absolutely fascinating. I
know on other campuses they've had groups that have done this to
some degree, but I know of none that have done it so effectively.
And the reason for it is that there was such an immense feeling of
pride in the institution, and such tremendous cooperation between
faculty and students and the administration, that problems were
stopped before they became at all serious. It was just great!
Even to the point where we thought if things were getting a little
bit quiet on campus, we would take a Model "T" Ford, disassemble
it, and assemble it suddenly in the chancellor's bedroom, or some
thing like that — with the motor running! [Laughter]
Shall I ask if you did that?
[Laughter] As we say in the law, "I neither admit nor deny." But
it was really a fun campus. Of course now it's become large. But
it still carries a certain stamp of this internal cooperation.
Even in those days, Davis was leader as to what happened in
the entire University system. We could do things that Berkeley
and UCLA could not do at all. In Cal Club — California Club — the
inter-campus club that is designed to promote the well-being of
the University in general, Davis always played a major role.
Especially since the smaller campuses generally joined with Davis
on major issues. Hence we were able to do a great deal for the
University as a whole. So it wasn't a localized situation. And
it's one of the reasons why so many Davis graduates have been such
potent forces later on in the University structure.
I maintain all
Oh, have they?
Yes. Those were very exciting days and still are.
the contacts I think I ever had there.
Could you give some examples of your —
Practically all the faculty. For instance, Jim Wilson, the fellow
who just burned his pants in dual protest over the war and the
burning of bank buildings — he's one of my best friends. He was one
of my profs there. And all the chancellors that have come through.
I work very closely still with the University on all sorts of
Fry: You mean as an alum?
Warren: As an alum, and privately, too.
Fry: Well, they need friends these days. [Laughter]
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Were you ever in anything musical?
Fry: Or dramatic, there? Davis had some good dramatic things.
Warren: Yes. I love those things, but in a performance role they're not
my bag, so to speak.
Fry: That was another thing that I wanted to ask you — your dad played
the clarinet, I think — or something like that.
Warren: Yes. He played clarinet.
Fry: And I saw a beautiful Steinway piano in the governor's mansion this
morning when I toured through it, and I wondered if the music had
trickled down into the second generation?
Warren: Not much. Virginia was the only one who had a talent for music —
she had good talent for it. But she didn't pursue it.
Fry: What did she play?
Warren: She played the piano.
Fry: Was that Steinway there, when you were there?
Warren: Yes. It was there.
Decision to Go into Law
Fry: Where are we — Were you in the army during Korea?
Warren: Yes, that was at the end of the Korean war.
Fry: Did you go to Korea?
Warren: No. And then after that I was a farm advisor in Alameda County for
about three years. And then went into law school at Berkeley.
Fry: At that point apparently you had decided, then, that you wanted law
as a career, even though your father was in it?
Warren: Yes. Several things began to come home to me about that time. Dad
had always wanted us to be sure that whatever we went into had broad
enough horizons to satisfy us. He would always question us as to
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: anything we were going to do. He was the type of man that if
you had the greatest idea in the world, but didn't have solid
reasons for doing it, he could cut it into a thousand pieces
and make you think it was a terrible idea. On the other hand,
you could have a rather bad idea, but if you had honestly thought
it out and decided you wanted to do it, he would be totally
I found, in agriculture, not owning any land or having
access to it, or having any money with which to farm, that if I
was going to stay in it, I was going to have to stay in a
capacity much like I was in, basically a teaching capacity. And
that this would require, if I was going to have good advancement,
a doctorate. I had already become known in the state as an expert
in animal husbandry and in agronomy. And this was as a very young
man in a short three years * time . That took a lot of the challenge
away. I began to think —
Fry: Yes. And also maybe you felt kind of locked in —
Warren: Well, I began to feel that maybe I had not stepped into a field
that had enough challenge. So the answer was to get a doctorate
if I was going to stay in agriculture, or go into something else
that would offer more potential. I was delighted with agriculture--
I've never enjoyed anything as much as I did that experience.
My natural inclination was to go into medicine because having
a scientific bent I always found medical type courses very easy —
I had a good feel for medicine. But, something that Dad had always
infused in us began to come home pretty strongly. And that is he
had always strongly counseled against running away from anything,
or from abandoning anything simply because it became uncomfortable.
He always wanted us to really search our minds and hearts to deter
mine whether or not we were doing this for convenience or whether
we were doing this because we were stepping on to something better,
more productive .
I had decided that with my background, there were two things
that I could do: I rejected the idea of going back and getting a
doctorate in agriculture. I didn't feel that this would be very
broadening at all. In fact I had a feeling that this might even
further limit the horizons. So I decided that it would either be
medicine, or, as an outside chance, law. And the more I thought
about it, the more I thought that perhaps I ought to be able to
apply more of what I knew in the area of law than I would in the
area of medicine . And then I began to feel that perhaps I was
running away from law simply because Dad was so prominent in it.
Fry: By this time he was on the Supreme Court.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: Yes. Had been there about three years. I suppose that this, more
than anything else, was the reason that I decided I would go into
law instead of something else. I felt I should face up to that
challenge, even though law had been the last thing in my mind. I'd
never ever considered going into law, nor had Dad ever suggested
it. Most people think exactly the contrary. In fact, most people
had assumed automatically that I would be a lawyer, so — But anytime
anybody assumed something like that, I just bowed my back even morel
Fry: Well, I had kind of thought that maybe it was a latter day decision;
this happens in a lot of cases.
Warren: It definitely was.
Fry: Well, then you went to law school, and you came straight to
Sacramento to practice in private practice?
Warren: I came straight to Sacramento, right. And opened my own office
with two other young fellows — classmates — which is the hard way
to go! [Laughter] And we practiced together, and then it became
a two-man partnership.
Fry: Who were your partners?
Warren: Tom Hammer, and Al Fields.
Fry: And did you come straight to the bench from private practice?
Warren: Yes. I was in private practice for about six years, and then
came onto the bench .
Earl Warren, Jr.
ENTRY INTO THE POLITICAL WORLD
First Campaigns of Earl Warren, Junior
Fry: Now, during any of this period were you active in California
Warren: Yes. Very active —
Fry: When did you start?
Warren: Well, I actually started in the initial John Kennedy campaign in
I960, and then very heavily in the gubernatorial campaign two
Fry: I'm trying to remember, because I was here then, too. Were you
Northern California chairman of the Kennedy campaign — or you were
Northern California-something, weren't you?
Warren: No, I didn't have a title in that campaign, I was just working
independently. At that time I was a Republican.
Fry: Oh, it was after that that you were a Democrat.
Fry: But at any rate you were working for Kennedy as a Republican?
Or did that not have any — was that in the background? In other
, words, you weren't head of Republicans for Kennedy, or something
Warren: Not that I know of. I don't recall whether I loaned the name, so
to speak, to one of those groups or not. But I did work as a
Republican because I felt that was where I would be most effective .
And then in '62, the Brown-Nixon gubernatorial campaign. I
was very heavily involved. I was vice-chairman of Governor Brown's
campaign then. I had become a Democrat in the interim.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: I also, during that campaign, campaigned for a wide variety of
candidates— I campaigned for Tom Kuchel, a Republican, that year,
and many of the assemblymen and congressmen and senators that are
still on the scene. That was a big time for me, because I really
got to know the political scene well in California — and the players.
Fry: You also were in the Kuchel campaign, who was a Republican; this
was the pattern, I think, with many voters who voted for Brown, a
Democrat, and also voted for Kuchel.
Warren: It sure was.
Fry: I've always wondered how it is to work with the different little
local groups in a campaign like that. I don't see how it's ever
organized in California, because one town will have campaign
headquarters for Brown and Kuchel — all in the same room — and an
other town will have all the Democratic candidates, right down
the line, and a headquarters for that. Itfs not at all a neat
Warren: No. Some organizations are very strong, and don't appear on paper
at all. On the other hand, some of these political organizations
are simply on paper — they don't exist, in actuality. They look
great on paper, but they have no viability except for what PR value
comes out of the names that are on the letterhead.
Fry: Yes! [Laughter]
Warren: So each individual situation varies, and when you go to one of these
places, you have to know exactly what it is that you're going into
ahead of time, and this takes a lot of planning. I traveled in
that one campaign about 125, COO miles. I made about hOO speeches
and public appearances .
Fry: And your speeches were not always just for Brown?
Warren: No. At times I was shot-gunning for local candidates as well.
Fry: Who arranged your schedule and your speeches?
Warren: I did it all on my own. I got many requests, but I did it myself,
and I paid my own expenses practically all the way, too, except
where I could hitch a ride on somebody's private plane or train
that happened to be going to a certain area. Yes, that was really
an interesting campaign, because that was truly a citizens' cam
paign ail the way through . We were fighting tremendous odds . And
we had to —
Yes. And tremendous stakes.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Because I think that everyone felt that if Nixon failed to win the
governorship, then he would be completely out as president — never
Warren: I think that was part of it.
Fry: And that therefore it was really worth working for. Didn't Brown
use a public relations firm in that campaign? And if so, did you
have anything to do with it? Or did he not in that campaign?
Warren: Well, they used firms in those days, but more often than not, they
took people from various firms and sort of put together their own
PR [Public Relations] staffs.
Fry: Incorporated them —
Warren: It's not like now when you say "Well Whit aker -Baxter handles all my
stuff," or something like that. It wasn't that way. Maybe a candi
date would have a certain firm that would do most of his basic work,
but a gubernatorial candidate usually had people from various firms,
and some old pros that did nothing but PR work for political candi
dates. And they had their own staff, which made it a sort of a
loosey-goosey operation. But it had charm to it, too.
Fry: Yes. Well, I just wonder, who's the boss in a case like that?
Just like your dad had a problem in 'U2.
Warren: It's always been a problem in political campaigns as to who's the
boss when it comes to PR. It's a big problem. .
Fry: At any rate, did Brown, then, appoint you to your judge ship?
Warren: Yes, four years later.
Democratic and Republican Parties Compared
Fry: Your background, I suppose, from your father up, is early -Hiram
Johnson-type progressivisra — am I guessing right?
Fry: And you moved into the Democratic party from what in California
had become a Republican party, as much as we have parties here.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: Yes. Well, I first became really aware of the political mixture,
so to speak, at about the same time I suppose most children do —
when I was getting into my later teens.
The first real awareness that I had that some of my prior con
cepts were shallow was when Harry Truman won the presidency the
time that my father ran on the ticket with Dewey. There was some
thing tremendously significant about that, and from then 'on I
started to really deeply inquire into what it was, and for the
first time I came to realize the basic differences between the two
parties. I had always thought of the Republican party in terms of
my father and his cohorts, the people that he surrounded himself
with, and how he operated. But then I realized that his philosophy
didn't differ from those of the major Democratic leaders, and that
really, he sounded very much like a Democrat, and in many respects
seemed to be more so than they were. Then I learned, through in
quiry, that the traditional, organized Republican party had always
been opposed to my father, and had tried to block him all the way
along the line, and that everything he had done had been done in
spite of it, and that all the great progress for which he was noted
was done through Democratic support, and a general lack of Republi
can support — except for those few Republicans who were of his own
brand of thinking.
I searched my conscience for a long time as to what to do, and
at one time decided I definitely would stay as a Republican. But
in the latter *50s it became obvious that to be a minority in a
minority party was going to be a completely untenable position — you
wouldn't have an opportunity to be really productive. And it
appeared that Dad's brand of Republicanism was on the wane, very
definitely on the wane. And that a more repressive type of Repub
licanism was going to be in control for a long time. So I decided
I had better be where my philosophy and Dad's basically lay, and
that was in the Democratic party.
Fry: Yes. Did you have any talks with your Dad about this, when he was
still in Sacramento? Seems like you were working through it in
your mind for a long time .
Warren: Oh, yes. In fact I talked to him constantly for about ten years.
And he always simply said to go where I felt I was most comfortable.
Fry: And did he see too that a great many of his — well, the types of
legislation that he pushed hardest were supported largely by
Warren: Oh, yes. He certainly did. And I very strongly suspect that if
he was in my position, he would have become — at the same time, and
at the same age — a Democrat. I would not have changed parties
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: if I had thought that in any respect this would indicate a differ
ence in philosophies between the two of us. In fact, one of the
reasons I did become a Democrat was because I felt this was an
indication that he also was.
Fry: I guess maybe it really wasn't as necessary, anyway, for your dad
to change parties?
Warren: No. There 'd be no sense for him to change at that late stage.
Fry: Because he had the support of the Democrats without being one.
Fry: And actually changing parties probably wouldn't have helped him
Warren: Oh, no I It wouldn't. No, there was nothing to gain, and as a
matter of fact —
Fry: He probably would have lost a lot of Republican support.
Warren: As a remaining example of progressive Republicanism, he was of
considerable value to the country, and I'm glad he stayed there
where he was, at that time. Because, after all, by that time he
was on the Court, and to change parties would have injected poli
tics into the Court, which is something that he never would
Fry: Oh sure. I was thinking about if he had changed in *U6. Let's
see, he ran on both tickets, anyway.
Warren: Yes. Well, he had control of —
Fry: That would have been the first time, I guess, when he was beginning
to see that he couldn't get Republican support in the legislature,
because his health plan legislation had failed.
Warren: He controlled the Republican party then just by his own dominance
in the scene at that time, and the more reactionary elements in
the party simply couldn't get a toe -hold.
You know, one of the most significant things in his background
is the fact that right off the bat he was not supported by the
traditional Republican party elements. When he ran for Attorney
General, the party told him, "Well, we can't do much for you
financially, because we're going to put all our money into beating
Olson." So he went with his own finance people, raised his own
funds, and didn't become beholden to anybody in the party. Then
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: when he —
Fry: Who was that in the traditional party in '38, was that Knowland?
Warren: No. Oh, no. These were the Republican Central Committees, and
the people who held the purse strings. The big-monied interests,
and so forth, that generally support the Republican campaigns.
Then came the race for the governorship, and he declared for it,
and the party told him, basically, that he could not win, and
that they were going to put their support behind lesser candidates
instead. So he said, "Fine. I'll go with my own people," and he
did and he put together a campaign that darn near dumped Olson in
the primary — came very close to winning both nominations. As soon
as this happened, the party then said, "Well, now, here's what we're
going to do for you--" and came up with offers of support . And it
may have been one of my father's most brilliant moves when he said,
"No thanks, I'll stay with my own people." He did, and of course
he won handily. As a consequence of this action, when people in
the party subsequently came to him and said, "Well, now, we want
you to do this or that," he could say, "I'm sorry. I don't owe
you anything at all. I'm going to go with the best people
possible, and if you are that best person, you'll be appointed;
if you are not that person, then it'll be somebody else." And he
never, for this reason, ever had to answer to anybody. He was a
completely free and independent man, and this probably is more
responsible than anything else for his ability to move things
through the legislature and do the things that he did as governor.
Fry: And his appointments were so — across the board, as far as political
parties were concerned.
Fry: You mentioned the tremendous strain on your Dad during the investi
gation into the John Kennedy assassination. What was his rela
tionship to John Kennedy?
Warren: He felt very close to him. Yes. The President —
Fry: He did. Did they have quite a lot of intercourse together, or — ?
Warren: When necessary. They were always tremendously cordial to each
other, and the President did call him up in regard to certain
judicial appointments, and asked his counsel and so forth, which
has been quite rare in recent times. Of course this delighted him,
and they — he felt very strongly about it, and was quite disturbed
about the mood of the country which would have created an assassina
tion like this.
Fry: You said you became very involved in the Kennedy campaign, after
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: you registered as a Democrat. Why did you choose Kennedy, rather
than Stevenson or some of the other leading Democrats at that
time? I remember at the convention the Stevenson delegates were
very adamant .
Warren: Well, I mostly got in the general election phase of it, but I'd
been quite impressed by Kennedy when he was seeking the vice-
presidential nomination the term before, and had watched him since
then, and I just had a feeling about the man. Well, I guess it
was his charisma that was starting to catch hold at that time, and
people were beginning to think that here was a fellow who had a
strange ability to move people, and move them in the right direc
tion. It was just beginning to catch on then, strongly. Of course
I was not pro-Nixon, in any sense.
Fry: No. That leads me to another question instantly. I pick up should
I say vibrations here and there that there was a nice camaraderie
between your father and Pat Brown after your father went to
Warren: And before, too.
Fry: And before?
Warren: Oh, yes.
Fry: Could you tell about that?
Warren: Well, Brown was a fine attorney general, and very supportive of my
father's objectives. And it was nice to have him in that office,
because we'd had an unfortunate circumstance just prior to that —
very unfortunate — in that office, and a lot of work needed to be
done. And Brown did it, and did it well. He was always very
supportive, and there was never any friction that I know of between
him and my father — ever.
They were always friendly, and then after Brown became governor
he quite avowedly continued my father's policies to the best of his
ability. There was a splendid rapport. In later years, particularly
in the second term, he quite frequently informally consulted my
father. Not in regard to an advisory capacity, I'm sure, just a
desire to make sure that he wasn't going astray from my father's
Fry: I remember at least once that they went duck-hunting or deer-
Warren: Oh, yes. Yes, he used to —
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: In fact, one knowledgeable observer told me that the feeling was
at one time — it was when — It was during the campaign between Nixon
and Brown, and your father came out and went deer-hunting with
Brown. And they said, as Supreme Court Justice, he couldn't come
out for one candidate or the other, but that they felt this
friendly gesture with Brown just at that time could have served
that purpose .
Warren: I forget whether or not they actually went hunting at that time,
but I know there was a public meeting between the two that had
the same effect.
Fry: And was it designed for that effect?
Warren: Well, I guess you'd have to ask the two old politicians that!
Fry: All right.
Warren: I feel certain that each of them had that in mind— not necessarily
that that would be the effect, but knowing that that would be the
Fry: Yes. Oh I I'm sure they must have known! [Laughter] Right.
Warren: Yes. You can't avoid that. Neither man was politically naive
enough not to recognize that that interpretation would be put on
Fry: What does your father think about Goody Knight?
Warren: Well, I suppose those views —
Fry: You'd just said, as the tape changed, that Goody Knight did oppose
some of Warren's programs. Was it his programs when he was
lieutenant governor? Or his election?
Warren: Well, he personally worked against my father while he was lieutenant
governor, which created considerable stress. There was a time I
recall when Dad went out of the state leaving, of course, Goody in
charge. And Goody immediately, as I recall, paroled two people
that my father had adamantly refused to parole, thus causing politi
cal embarrassment. He was also constantly trying to align the
official Republican party against my father. And prior to the
election in 1950 had succeeded in lining up a number of the major
Central Republican Committees, including Sacramento's and Los Angeles'
as I recall, and had announced that he was going for the governor
ship, regardless of whether Dad ran or not. Then, at the last
moment, he announced that he would not — that he would stay where
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: These things went on and on, and he was courting the ultra-
conservative elements of the Republican party all the time, and
playing footsie with the Tom Werdel people, and things of that
sort. So there was no great camaraderie between the two men.
Of course after my father left, Goody had enough political savvy
not to rock the ship too much, and so the programs that had been
initiated in my father's era largely continued on. Which was
good — that the opposite did not occur.
Fry: Yes. Knight seemed to sort of turn into a natural liberal, or
else he always was one, but was trying to court favors from the
Werdel forces, or something. Do you know why he withdrew his hat
from the ring?
Warren: Sure. He was just smart enough to realize he was going to get
Fry: He just changed his mind, then?
Warren: Yes. The cards weren't there. He didn't hold enough. Jty father
at that time simply had too strong a control of the situation.
Even, I suppose, if Goody had managed to garner the Republican
nomination, my father still had an excellent chance of grabbing
the Democratic nomination and beating him anyway. Cross-filing
was still in effect. So all these things were definite possibilities
and Goody was smart enough to see them.
Fry: I guess he had wanted to run for governor for a long, long time.
Fry: And then finally your father went to Washington. [Laughter]
Who would be a good person to talk to about Goody Knight? If
you had to choose someone who was the closest to him, who would it
Warren: I don't know, but I would think Pop Small could help you a lot on
that. Perhaps Jim Oakley. Have you talked to him yet?
Fry: I will this afternoon.
Warren: I don't know how freely he talks, on these things. Pretty discreet
man, and he might not want to talk about things like this. But Pop
Small's been pretty outspoken on most things, recently.
Fry: Yes, he's been putting a lot of articles in the Bee, hasn't he?
I had dinner with the Smalls last night. Pop has been interviewed;
we have several tapes which are just being processed. He's men
tioned a few things about Goody, and about all it amounts to is
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: that I think it was difficult for the office staff to take Goody
Knight seriously after working with your father. [Laughter]
I mean it was difficult, I think, for them to accept him.
You mentioned yesterday that your dad usually had to raise
his own money, because he couldn't count on it from the formal
Fry: I was just flipping through my cards at lunch today, and I noticed
a note in there from somewhere else that said— Oh, it was from Pop
Small — that Warren usually just had a friend in each county to take
charge of his campaign, and he just ran it as a lone thing, without
any particular connection to formal Republican structure.
Warren: I think that's true, yes. I think that's generally true.
Fry: Which dovetails with what you were saying. And I'm trying to get
some line on how he would raise funds for the campaign like this,
and over and over again I have picked up some names. I'd like for
you to see if this meshes with what you remember: that in Northern
California some of his major fund-raisers were Feigenbaum, Mr.
Steinhart, Mailliard — who's now Congressman — Walter Haas; and in
L.A., Preston Hotchkis?
Warren: Well, all those people were involved to some extent. How heavily,
I don't know. Jesse Steinhart, I know, was. Pres Hotchkis was,
I guess — at least in the later years. I don't know about the
Fry: In the later campaigns.
Warren: Yes. You see the real critical ones, of course, were the early
years. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of those people have
never been heard of again. [Laughter] You know, that's the type
of a — These were just nice, sound people who probably just
picked up nickels and dimes where they could find them.
Fry: Yes. I think they were described to me as community-chest types.
Warren: Yes. Nice people. Good solid citizens.
Fry: And they were in the circle of friends who could afford to donate
money to political campaigns, and so they did so.
Warren: Yes. I suspect that's true.
Fry: Are there any other names that you might add to that?
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: No. In the financial world I'm just not too sure. I never did
pay too much attention to that.
Fry: Were you ever involved in helping in a campaign?
Warren: In his campaigns? No. The boys studiously avoided— deliberately
avoided — any involvement in the campaigning.
Fry: [Laughter] In 19^8 you would have been 18, and I thought maybe
you were there then. But you weren't. You were busy with
agriculture at Davis.
Warren: Jim was too old. I mean he was off on his own, basically, most all
the time. And so he didn't have to get involved. And I simply
didn't want to get involved, and kind of said no, and Dad never
forced us on any of these things. I'm sure there were plenty of
overtures, but I always demurred, and my brother Bob was of much
the same bent, so he just rode along with me, and we stayed out.
The girls being better sports or [laughter] having a better social
consciousness at that age, did go along and were quite effective,
Fry: Our office just got the most gorgeous pictures of any females I
have ever seen, of your sisters. They are big glosses that were
made for the presidential campaign in 19^*8. I can't see how anyone
would fail to vote for your father with those girls standing there!
[Laughter] All the virile young men in the nation would tear to
the polls and cast their vote.
Earl Warren, Jr.
CIVIL LIBERTIES AND EARL WARREN
Fry: Someone put this article on my desk; it came out on July 1, 1970,
on something you and I were talking about here just before I
turned on the tape recorder — the invasion of privacy that seems to
be more and more socially acceptable, the computerized data banks
on private citizens that are being suggested in all the government
Let me just show you this article now. At the end of the article
it gives the Warren Report as the basis for supporting this sort
of thing. If this is the way this turn of events is going to be
traced in history, I think it needs some sort of discussion and
Warren: [Reads article] I don't think that that's what was intended by
the report. I'm sure there are individual members of that commis
sion who would ascribe to this very wholeheartedly, but that is not
my father's philosophy. I'm sure that he, probably more than any
other citizen, knows the dangers of invading privacy here in the
United States. Because if we do very much of this we have no
America as we've known it in the past.
Fry: Didn't your father come out in a public speech this year against
a bill which was to keep tabs on people who might be potential
rioters or something like this?
Warren: He could have, although I don't know about it.
However, he did speak out on what they call Title II. This
was a portion of the McCarran Act which provided for internment
of people in times of national emergency, and which smacked of the
internment of the Japanese during World War II. The Japanese-
American citizens of the United States have been spear-heading the
fight to remove this from the McCarran Act, even though it does
not necessarily involve them. In fact it's quite remote that it
would ever involve them again. But on principle they want to see
this go, and they feel it also adds to the tensions of the Black
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: population, because it suggested this could be used for Blacks.
In truth, it could be used for any type of political prisoner;
it is a very obnoxious thing. And Dad sent a letter to the
president of the Japanese-American Citizens League —
Warren: in which he said that he totally opposed this provision of the law,
and that it was a terrible thing. Basically, he said that the
internment of the Japanese had been an unfortunate circumstance,
and that this type of thing should not have an opportunity to
happen again. This letter was used in testimony by the Japanese-
American Citizens League before the committee that was hearing the
Fry: I see. I think that's what I was thinking of.
Warren: It's the only time that I know of that he's spoken out against
special legislation, although I think he's taken a few raps at
the current no-knock law proposals. I don't know whether he's
specified them, but I think he's suggested that they are not
Fry: Is that also the first time that he's publicly come out and said
that the Japanese internment was a mistake?
Warren: I'm sure that he feels that the internment was a mistake. Yes,
there's no question about that; in retrospect it was an unneces
sary act and it was a cruel act. It should not have happened.
Of course he couldn't have prevented it, because it was a federal
mandate, but he went along with it, as did everybody else. And at
that time the information that was being given was that it was
necessary — the federal government and the military, they were
giving us information. And there were some other signs that tended
to corroborate that evidence, and that's why practically everybody
did do this, did support —
Fry: It was widely accepted —
Warren: It was just a unanimous feeling.
People were in shock, for we hadn't realized that we were at
all vulnerable, particularly from a country such as Japan. Suddenly
our fleet had been largely destroyed, and destroyed in American
waters. So he went along. But he was the first American of any
prominence to try to undo the effects of that. He did all sorts
of things. Not just to put these people back where they were be
fore, but to actually advance them beyond what they were. He
appointed judges who were Japanese and brought other Japanese
into government, even in a time when this was considered still
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: almost treasonous by some people. And he even went beyond that,
for as soon as the war was over, he immediately started developing
pride in the Japanese race in general by developing ties with
Japan, with exchange programs of all sorts, bringing their people
over here and sending ours over there, and a wide number of things
to really put that situation back where it should have been.
Fry: Pop Small has an article coming out on the exchange of the
Japanese farmers that took place at that time. I think that's
going to be his next one .
Warren: I don't know whether that program's still going on, but when I was
a farm adviser I used to receive those groups all the time in
Alameda County. They certainly know who started the program.
Fry: That it started under your dad?
Fry: I was talking to Carey McWilliams, and he has, of course, seen what
he considers to be a big change in your father. And it's kind of
interesting to see that McWilliams* own attitude toward your
father has changed.
Warren: I think the only people who have seen changes in my father are
people who have changed themselves. I don't think my father has
Fry: I think Carey McWilliams 1 view are still the same, but it may be
that he didn't see the liberal indications in your father in 1938
and '39> and in the early 'UOs, which is when McWilliams was
here in California. See, he never knew your father personally, I
think. So I think at that time he was judging your father from his
public acts, and your father didn't have much chance to show any
sort of social concern when he was district attorney or attorney
general, like he did later when he was governor.
Warren: Right. But that's it. He is judged by the roles that he was
playing at the particular time, and some of his ideas had, as you
suggest, very limited running room. He was known as a tough prose
cutor, during his early years — really tough. The toughest the
state had, and probably the toughest the nation had ever had, and
the most effective. And then, later on, as attorney general, he
was much the same, but then his horizons were broadened somewhat,
and he began to get into other programs which indicated a more
liberal philosophy. When he became governor, of course, he had a
wide spectrum to deal with, and when he became Chief Justice, again
he had a different spectrum. There really wasn't any change at all
in the man. If you go back even to the district attorney days,
you realize that he wasn't reversed in any of his cases, which
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: means simply that he wasn't using oppressive tactics in order
to get his convictions. And if he wasn't using oppressive tactics
in those days when they weren't thinking in terms of civil rights,
you know the man hasn't changed very much.
Warren: So he was tough and effective, but apparently in those days would
have to be considered — even in today's terminology — quite liberal —
from a civil libertarian standpoint. So I think when people view
him as having changed, it is they who have changed, not him.
Fry: I've talked to other law enforcement people from that period, and
it's hard for us to realize now what the professionally acceptable
methods of collecting evidence were.
There was widespread bugging which was used as courtroom
evidence, and it was nothing unusual to question a suspect for 2k
hours, with teams coming in. [Laughter]
Fry: I don't know whether your father ever did anything like that or not,
but I knew it was widespread practice, and it was accepted practice
at that time .
Warren: Of course not. It's my understanding that he ordered the prime
suspect in the murder of his father released simply because he felt
he had been unfairly questioned.
Fry: Oh, that's a story that Oscar Jahnsen tells, too. And the police
chief tells me that he wasn't really a prime suspect, but it could
have happened. There were so many law officers from different com
munities who came in that this could have happened in Bakersfield,
a suspect could have been questioned for a long time.
Warren: Well, this one particular man was questioned for an awfully long
time. It wasn't a brutal thing, at all, but it wasn't within what
my father thought was fair — although it was perfectly fair within
the general context of that day.
Fry: And then later there was a man in San Quentin, I think, who was
also a suspect, and they wanted to bug his cell, and your father
said no, and he wouldn't let them.
Warren: One of the suspects — the one they held the longest — I think they
held him two weeks — came in to see me the other day.
Fry: Who was that? Was that the man named Reagan?
Earl Warren, Jr.
No. I would remember if it was that. I've got his name down
here someplace. Awfully nice fellow. He actually had no in
volvement, he wasn't a criminal; he was just a drifter of sorts.
He came in and told all about how the investigation worked, and
so forth. He had heard that he was being looked for and he had
hopped a train and got down there to Bakersfield and turned him
self in. They held him for a couple of weeks, and finally found
out that he unjustly had the finger pointed at him and turned him
loose. He's been a great friend of policemen ever since,
really a very quaint story.
Yes. Well, I wonder which one he was? Because I was told, and I
don't know whether this is true or not, that the prime suspect
that they had down there is now dead. I mean that the local
police department had.
And then I got into this business (laughter) — after I'd gone
to interview people in Bakersfield and came back, I saw a news
paper article in the Examiner that said that some of the prime
suspects had been black, and that it was rumored among the Negro
community in the state that Warren as governor had a prejudice
against black people because he thought one had killed his father.
And I realized I had not asked if any of them were black.
I never heard that. I've never heard it mentioned.
No. Well, we wouldn't have. I think it was rattling around just
in the Negro community, and the Negro reporter who told me herself
that she knew this was untrue at the time, but nevertheless they
had this feeling that it was the reason he wasn't moving fast enough
on FEPC, or giving enough pressure on FEPC.
Well, I'd be surprised, really, if they had any black suspects and
didn't say so, because you have to realize that that part of the
state was, and still is, basically a little hunk of the South. And
that blacks are blacks to most of those people down there. And
they don't mind saying so.
It turned out they had had a couple of black suspects.
But I don't think they were of any particular significance.
Because the police didn't realize at that time what they were deal
ing with. They didn't know whether they had a murderer who was just
a casual intruder, so to speak, or whether they had somebody who
was incredibly cagey, the signs were all mixed — enough to point to
the possibility of a crude robbery — a very blundering type robbery —
enough to indicate involvement of somebody who was mentally very
unalert; but weird enough to suggest that maybe somebody had been
just smart enough to cover the trail that much. It was a very
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: There are still people in Bakersfield — and these are your right-
wingers— who tell me that Earl Warren had this covered up.
Warren: Oh, I'm sure they say that. There are plenty of right-wingers down
there, too, I'll tell you that.
Fry: Yes, there are.
It was interesting in Bakersfield. I went to the library and
pulled out all of the city directories during the period when your
dad lived there, and part of the time after he left, too, because I
was interested in your grandfather. The city directories give the
person's name and his occupation and his home address. Then in
some of them there's also a reverse directory where you look it up
by the street number, and it tells you who lives there, and his
occupation (or hers, "housewife," or something). And the blacks
were listed right along with the whites; there was no notation of
the difference in skin color. I looked up some of the Negroes that
were working there in the library whose parents had lived there
then, and they were listed just like the whites. But for a house
where an Oriental was living, all it said was "Oriental." Period.
Warren: Really? This is where?
Fry: In Bakersfield, between 1906 and about 1920.
Warren: My goodness!
Fry: So that Orientals simply didn't count. The city would not even
list their names. And these were mostly the Chinese, who came to
work on the railroad when it came in, and stayed and became cooks
Warren: As I understand it, I think it was the town of Arvin, which is just
outside of Hanford, which at one time was the largest Chinese settl
ment outside the Orient--in fact the largest Oriental settlement
outside the Orient. It almost completely disappeared, but now it's
coming back as just a regular subdivision of Hanford. Apparently
there was an immense settlement there, so it may be partly the fact
of the number of Orientals that caused this problem.
Fry: Yes. I sort of got the idea that maybe your father had grown up in
a town where blacks seemed to be more accepted just like whites.
They also had middle-class type jobs. And they lived in all parts
of the town. There was no one section of blacks, and they could
Warren: No, but that's still pretty much —
Fry: You don't think that's true?
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: No, I think they were definitely something below second-class
citizens, in the minds of the community.
Warren: Oh, I'm sure they still are! Black men have little status in that
Fry: Yes. I think that's true now.
Warren: It's always been.
Fry: I think that's especially true since the '30s migration of whites
from the South to Bakersfield, but I wasn't sure that it was true
in 1908. They probably were second-class citizens, but I mean
there were only a few of them and they were relatively well-
integrated in this community. They weren't barred from restaurants,
or anything like this, according to the second-generation black
people who live there now.
Warren: Well, at one time there were so very few that they posed no threat
at all, but as the numbers became greater, you know, it —
Fry: Then they became a threat?
Warren: A real threat. Do you know that The Grapes of Wrath still is
banned in, I think, Tulare County, in the schools?
Fry: I wouldn't be surprised I
Warren: Yes, as I understand it it was a few years ago. That's quite an
indicator, you know, of what the make-up is.
Fry: Yes. Well, it's terribly hard to get at the social context of a
community, and we'll be doing more interviews around just to pick
up a social picture of Bakersfield as best we can, at that era.
Warren: You're going to have a hard time doing it.
Fry: Yes. We're having difficulty in finding enough people who can
reliably report on what it was like .
Warren: I don't think there are hardly any, to tell you the truth. Because
other people have tried to do this and run into insurmountable
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: After going to Bakersfield I found one person in Berkeley who
lived pretty close to where the Warrens lived and whose father
worked with your grandfather, and by the way, they're Negroes.
We have four interviews with classmates who are more able to
tell what the school was like than what Earl Warren was like, but
it's still important to know what the school was like. It was a
pretty strict affair by today's standards. It was an amazing class
he was in.
Warren: Yes. You mean as to the people it produced?
Fry: Hie fact that they all went to the University — I mean all the boys
Warren: I didn't realize that.
Fry: And nearly all of them have been relatively successful.
I must let you go. It's two o'clock and your court is waiting,
Warren: Okay. Do you have other things you wanted to ask me?
Fry: Oh, yes, I do.
Warren: I don't know how long my calendar will take. I should be done by
four if you want to wait that long. We can take whatever time you
Fry: Maybe I could call you. I'm going to be down at Judge Oakley's.
Maybe I could come back at four.
Warren: Four, four-thirty, five — makes no difference to me.
(Interview 3 - July 9, 1970)
Fry: When this is transcribed, we will send a copy to you to look over.
We try to take out the ambiguities that creep in and I usually
sharpen up my questions a bit'. [Laughter] Then it's retyped in
a nice clean copy and indexed and put in Bancroft Library under
whatever guarantees you want. You have to sign a legal agreement
with the Board of Regents to make it available to scholars.
Warren: Oh, boy! I'm not sure they're a competent body to sign anything
Fry: I know. This may all be invalidated when comes the revolution!
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: [Laughter] There were six of us, judges and lawyers, that sat
down with a newspaper reporter a couple of months ago and talked
on constitutional aspects. This was to celebrate Law Week. It was
taped. Usually these things are just horrible. Any group of
people over three is miserable, and usually two is the maximum you
can swing at any one time, just like a panel discussion—they're
usually lousy, you know.
But this one was really good. Everybody was so articulate,
and so precise, and stated himself so well on the various sides of
the issues, that I was thinking to myself as I went away— why in
the dickens couldn't something like this have been televised, in
stead of the kind of stuff that you usually have? Well they made
up a big full page on this in the newspaper, and everybody was
quoted exactly — and everybody sounded like a blithering idiot.
Warren: Because they had not taken out those things that —
Fry: The false starts and the phrases that are out of place —
Warren: Right. And there's no way of punctuating.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: I have a few political questions that you might be able to shed
some light on. The question has come up about your dad's reaction
to the defeat in 19^8 when he ran with Dewey on the presidential
Warren: I think he felt that it was in the wind before the election
transpired. I can remember him talking to Dewey many times for an
hour or so on the phone, and although I couldn't hear what was
being said on the other side, I can remember Dad saying, "But Tom,
you've got to go out and talk to the people. ""Tom, you've got to tell
them something." "Tom, you've got to talk about the issues." "I
know, Tom, but you've got to talk to the people." I remember hearing
these conversations for about six months, and then I remember election
night down in San Francisco — we had all gone down there. A big
victory had been proclaimed, but Dad seemed rather reticent to get
too excited about anything! [Laughter] And when the results started
coming in, Truman was ahead, but everybody was saying, "Well, that's
exactly what you'd expect at this stage." It must have been only
about 7:30 at night, when Dad called me over. By this time everybody
was whooping it up and having a big time proclaiming this great
victory, because once the Republican districts started coming in,
a Republican landslide would be there. He said to me, "Earl, it's
all over. Truman has licked us pretty good." And I remember saying,
"l thought that these returns that were coming in were only very
sporadic." And he said, "No, I know these districts, and the pattern
is very, very firm. We've lost this one. It's all over. I know
you children have school tomorrow, so there's no use your waiting."
He said, "Would you take the children home? You don't have to say
anything about it, if you don't want to, but it's all over." So,
while everybody was celebrating, he knew. Dad always knew his
people. He always knew them. And he could predict with just the
slightest little sampling from an area that he knew as to which way
something was going to go. He didn't need a whole series of reports.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Or like the Kennedys used the computer.
Warren: Yes. He was a great political analyst, and strategist.
Fry: Afterwards did he seem to regret having lost?
Warren: No. In fact I'm not so sure that maybe in a way he wasn't pleased
with the fact that the American people demanded to have somebody
speak on the issues, and demanded to have everything right out in
the open. I've always sensed this. He's always felt a very strong
kinship to Truman, and not just because Truman and he got along
nicely together, I think that he felt here was a very sincere,
dedicated man who liked people and who had the pulse of people
somehow, and had some answers for them.
I'm not sure that he really felt badly about that race at all.
And, of course, as it turned out it was a great blessing.
Fry: Yes, right. [Laughter] He became the Chief Justice.
Irving Stone told me that he didn't think that Earl Warren
wanted to run for vice-president then. That before he went to New
York and to the governors' meeting in New Hampshire, just before the
Republican convention, he had told Irving Stone that he just was not
going to run for vice-president, that he would consider the first
slot on the ticket, but not vice-president, and that it was that or
just nothing. And then, when he got East, he changed his mind for
reasons that Irving Stone gave me : that he was a little alarmed
over the talk on Wall' Street of wanting to slow down the economy
so that the labor unions couldn't have as much control.
I don't think so. Irving was never very close to my father, as a
political adviser, at all. It's true, that when Dewey ran the
first time in 19^-> ray father felt for one thing it was a lost
cause, and second thing, he just didn't feel that the timing was
right. He's a master at timing — political timing. He could have
had the vice-presidential nomination at that time, but he knew
Bricker was available and ready to go. So he turned it down then.
But in 'U8 he certainly knew that he would have to run if asked.
And he expected to be asked.
Okay. So you don't see this, then, as any change in his outlook
after he got back East?
No. Because he wasn't going for the top spot then seriously. He
was going for the top spot about the same as Kennedy was going for
the top spot the time before he ran. Really he was looking for the
prominence, either to be the vice-president or to be the maid-in-
waiting, so to speak.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: And then he wasn't even given the opportunity during the campaign
to show what he could do.
Warren: Yes. I don't think he was very keen on third terms, anyway. I
don't think he really expected to go for a third term for the
governorship. But he wouldn't feel too badly to be able to com
plete his term as governor, either, because there were a lot of
things he wanted to do. So: One, he definitely was not harboring
any real, real thoughts of grabbing that top spot, because Dewey
had that all sewed up.
Fry: Right. He did by then.
Warren: Long ago — years before. [Laughter] You know, the party hadn't
changed, he was their boy. Now, of course, the next time around
was an entirely different situation.
Fry: The next time around, in 1952, Taft was a leading contender before
the convention. I was kind of comparing in my mind Taft's outlook
with Warren's outlook. One of the stories I've picked up was that
Taft did want Bill Knowland to be his running mate , if he got it .
And I wondered how Taft would look upon Warren.
Warren: They got along very well-
Fry: This is a relationship that not many people have really talked
Warren: Well, I think that they would have been very satisfactory. Dad had
committed himself that time that he very definitely would not be a
vice-presidential candidate. And he meant it then; that was dif
ferent from 19^8. No, he made a solemn pledge that he was only
running for the presidency and that he would not accept the vice-
presidency. And he meant it. So, although Taft would have been
delighted to have him, Taft knew that when Dad said something he
meant it. So there wasn't any speculation, although I think he
would have been delighted to have had Dad, because that would be
by far the strongest ticket. And they had great respect for each
other, even though their philosophies may have differed to a sub
stantial degree. Taft was a very honorable man, and a fairly
humanitarian man. His policies may have seemed a little outdated —
to Dad, but Dad liked him very much. And he got along very well
with the Taft people, just as he did with the Eisenhower people.
Fry: I kind of thought maybe he would have.
Earl Warren, Jr.
And as a matter of fact , you know — not much was known about
Eisenhower at that time. In fact, it's very hard to say that Taft
was the more conservative of the two.
yes. It is hard, especially in retrospect.
At that time, see, nobody else really knew either. Nor did Dad
know exactly where Eisenhower stood. It wasn't even known for a
long time whether he was going to be a Democrat or a Republican.
He was being courted by both parties.
I know. No one had any idea. And Taft at the time was best known
by the Taft-Hartley Act, while a lot of other more progressive
legislation he had pushed was relatively unknown to the general
Warren: Right. He'd really been a fine legislator.
Earl Warren, Jr.
THE REPUBLICAN RIGHT WING
Fry: I picked up some Tom Werdel stories and things down in Bakersfield.
There are still Werdel supporters down there .
Warren: I've always felt that the Werdel thing had grown a little bit out
of proportion. The only significance to it is that it did indicate
that the Republican party in California still had tremendous roots
in far right conservatism — that's about the only significance.
Werdel himself ds of no significance .
Fry: Are you saying that he served as just a coalescing agent?
Warren: He was just a person; I'm sure that they could have done something
far better with a reputable conservative, and I don't think that he
was . In fact , quite the contrary .
Fry: Did you mean to say that they weren't any particular threat to Warren
at the time?
Warren: Oh, I don't think they were.
Fry: Did Bill Knowland come to his aid against the Werdel forces during
the 1950 primary, when they were trying to gun down your dad?
Warren: Oh, Bill Knowland was — (laughter) You know, they may be worlds
apart right now in philosophy, and they may have been quite a bit
apart at other points, but he was impeccably loyal to Dad, all the
time. Just impeccably. Even to the point of the Nixon campaign
dealings — campaign train dealings in 195 2 « At any stage of the
proceedings there, Knowland probably could have taken — oh, just a
half cop-out, so to speak, and grabbed all the glory back to him
self, with the Eisenhower forces. But he wouldn't do it. And I
think he knew it, too. I think he knew that he might be in trouble,
but he didn't do it. No, he was a very upright and loyal man in
Fry: I can't get a picture of how bothersome this right-wing Werdel group
was, at the time. But if they never really were a threat, then it
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: wouldn't have been necessary, I guess, for Knowland to come out on
Warren's behalf against Werdel. Is it your impression that it
Warren: Well, of course Oakland is Dad's home territory, and times have
changed. Now we have news immediately. It's thrown into every
body's front room every moment of the day from any place. Anytime
anything happens in any town of any significance, it's across the
country and in everybody else's home almost immediately. But in
those days, that wasn't true, and there were a lot of bellwethers.
If you weren't strong in your own territory, other people would
view you as being weak. And Alameda County being considered my
father's home territory, if he didn't have good support from the
newspapers there at that time, especially the strong one, Knowland' s
Tribune , people would say, 'Veil, maybe he's in trouble." So the
support was important.
The Werdel move was kind of like one branch of the military
trying to out-coup another branch of the military that's also
trying to effect a coup. It was a striving for power of a group
that was on the outs, and Werdel was representing a lot of vested
interests and some pretty bad interests. He was representing some
of the more radical of the elements of the Republican party and he
was representing those Republicans who probably thought they ought
to have a bigger say in the administration— felt they had been
passed by. But Dad often said, "You can always get a third of the
vote against any incumbent, no matter how good he is. You can
always pick up a third of the vote against him. That's automatic."
And that's exactly what it turned out to be. They got a third of
the vote. [Laughter] I remember that pretty well, because he was
never particularly worried about it — I think he only considered it
bothersome because it meant an intraparty fight.
Fry: But your dad had been in office for such a long time at that point,
eight years, you'd expect him to have developed quite a lot of
Warren: Yes. He was beginning to be a little concerned that maybe anybody
who's around too long will begin to pick up some other votes against
him, just on that basis alone.
Fry: One of the things that kind of changed in their support for your
dad, I gather, were the oil interests. At first they were glad
because he was a Republican, and they kind of automatically came
to his aid in 'U2, but then later on, of course, when the freeway
tax came on —
Warren: They hadn't come to his aid in ft +2. This is when he used his own
finance people — and this is why he made a mortal enemy of people
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: like Keck. He never, never had to get beholden, and oil, of
course, was one of the biggest power groups. He never had to
become beholden to these people. If any money was raised from the
oil interests, it was raised independently so that he had no at
tachment with it whatsoever.
Fry: It may have been just one oil man, Harold Morton, maybe, who
supported him. At any rate, I thought maybe he did have pretty good
general Republican support, simply as the Republican candidate in
19^, and that later when he wanted to tax oil companies to put in
new freeways, and so forth—
Warren: Oh, I think all Republicans voted for him practically all the time
in the elections. I don't think there was much of a switch-over of
Republican votes. Who else could they really vote for? They
certainly weren't going to go for Olson, whom they considered almost
a Red. In 19^6, Bob Kenny, who was probably the finest man who ever
ran against Dad — truly a splendid guy — but Dad was so strong Kenny
couldn't do anything then. And then in 1952 Jimmy Roosevelt was
considered pretty far out by Republicans.
Fry: So they didn't have any other place to go, really.
Do you have any information on the rather prolonged fight that
he had to get through the program for highways in California? It
started I think around 19^7, and continued through '^9— '50.
Warren: Well, except that it took an awful lot of homework — a lot of back-
scene maneuvering, and a lot of right out in the forefront fighting,
too. It was an educational process, basically.
Fry: For your Dad?
Warren: No. Educating people to think in terms of a state — a big state and
Earl Warren, Jr.
EARL WARREN AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS
Fry: You mentioned Kenny. The relationship of Earl Warren and Kenny
was another big question mark — and if any of Kenny's liberalism
might have helped educate your dad further as he was progressing
in that direction.
Warren: Well, it didn't hurt. Of course I don't think their philosophies
ever differed in any major respect that I know of. I think they
both thought the other guy was great.
Fry: How did your dad feel when Kenny ran as a Democrat for governor
against your dad in the primary in '46?
Warren: I'm sure he was delighted to be opposed by such an honorable man!
And I think he was probably equally delighted to have somebody
as genteel as Bob Kenny was. He's a sweet fellow. What was that
great statement he made after he was beaten?
They said, "How come you lost," and he said, "He got more
votes than I did!"
Fry: Oh, yes! [Laughter]
Warren: And there was something about a lame duck — a statement he made about
a lame duck, and of course he has a bad arm. It was kind of a double
joke on himself — I forget what it was. But he's just a real fine
Fry: Those Kenny-isms are so priceless. I wish I could remember them.
Every time I talk to him without the tape recorder and they come
pouring out, I sit there and gnash my teeth!
Warren: Yes. [Laughter]
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Janet Stevenson, in Oregon, who 1 s writing his biography, wrote me
and said, "Do you have any of these on tape?" [Laughter] He went
to Nuremburg during the primary campaign — he just sort of left the
country for awhile. Much to the distress of the Democrats.
Warren: I don't think he really wanted to run. I know he didn't think he
could win, and yet he just felt that he had to try. I mean it was
forced on him. He was the only possible guy in the picture. He
was the only candidate of any real stature at that time.
Fry: And someone said that there was a very strong pressure for the
Democrats to put up somebody worthy at that time against Governor
Warren: Oh, they just had to, in order to keep the party alive, and to
support the other candidates that were running. You've got to have
at least a semblance of a strong ticket on top or you get nothing
down below. And this, of course, was more true then than it is now.
Much truer. So that's why he ran.
Fry: Well, how close were he and Kenny? Was Kenny over at the house
much, or was it primarily a good working relationship?
Warren: Just a good working relationship. Very good. Kenny was a splendid
Fry: He seemed to have continued the organization that your father had
Warren: Yes, he did. And he built upon it.
Fred F. Houser
Fry: Do you know anything about the Lieutenant Governor in your father's
first term, Fred F. Houser, and the relationship there?
Warren: Yes. It was cordial, but strained.
Fry: Why was it strained? Was that because of the difference in person
alities of the two men?
Warren: Perhaps partly, but I don't think Dad felt Houser was carrying any
wheres near his share of the obligations.
Fry: Was there any problem with Houser 's official actions when Warren
went out of the state?
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: No, not that I know of. I don't know if Houser entertained any
thoughts of going higher, or not. I don't recall any talk of that,
at all. In fact, these were the days when everything was moving
so terribly fast — new programs and new people, and so forth. I
just sensed that that was the main feeling — that he wasn't part of
the team, let's put it that way.
Well, my impression is that he was kind of a cold and stand-offish
Warren: I think he was.
Fry: Another name I have down here to ask you about is Truman. In
19^8, I think, Truman came out to California for what today would
be called a non-political appearance. [Laughter]
Fry: It wasn't called that then, but anyway he came out and your dad
apparently was advised not to see him, in the middle of the
Warren: He was told not to I [Laughter]
Fry: Oh, by whom? [Laughter]
Warren: Oh, by the party regulars. I remember him saying, "They're not
going to like this, but I'm going — I'm governor of this state, and
he's coming in as our guest, and the host is going to be there!"
Fry: And so he met him.
Warren: Of course, Truman was delighted, and said some very nice things
then, and he went down to the Bay Area or to Los Angeles and said
some other nice things. It didn't hurt Dad a bit! [Laughter]
Fry: Sure. It probably didn't hurt Truman either!
Warren: No, it didn't hurt Truman either! [Laughter] They jointly picked
up some votes.
Fry: Were they corresponding pals--pen pals between California and
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: Not really, I think, until Truman was out of the presidency, and
then of course they became much closer. They eventually came
together on certain projects.
Fry: Oh, did they?
Warren: Things like the Truman library, and Truman selected him to do cer
Fry: Oh, he did? What did he ask your dad to do?
Warren: Well, to head various —
Fry: Was he raising funds out here for the Truman library? No, he
couldn't do that.
Warren: I'm rusty exactly as to what Dad did. He did so much during that
time. But they're very close friends.
Fry: We're about to interview Tom Kuchel, and the impression I get there
is that this was another good working team, with Kuchel as controller,
then as U.S. Senator.
Warren: Yes. He was part of the team.
Fry: Were they also friends, outside of the office, or was this primarily
a working relationship?
Warren: I would really classify it mostly as a professional relationship.
They had some mutual friends, but Tom's close personal friends were
not necessarily the same as Dad's close personal friends. I think
that's true of practically all the political associations he's had.
Fry: Later on in Washington, when your father was Chief Justice, they
were very close in social, family-type things? Is that true?
Warren: No closer, I think, than they were before.
Fry: Some lobbyist told me that.
Warren: Well, of course they saw each other very frequently, because Dad,
as the Chief Justice, had to fulfill all the protocol requirements
of the court. He had to go to all the embassy dinners and all the
White House functions, and Kuchel would be present at a lot of
those, so they saw each other very frequently.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Yes. But he appointed Kuchel over three or four other very able
men for senator. Do you have any idea why he chose Kuchel at
Warren: You mean as contrasted with the others? No, I don't. In fact,
I'm not exactly sure all of whom were under consideration.
Fry: Yes, I'm not either. And I didn't really mean to make it a
comparative comment. I just wondered what he felt about Kuchel.
Warren: He felt he had a lot of potential, and felt he had proved himself
well in the controller's office.
Earl Warren, Jr.
THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
Fry: I'd like to ask you some about the people -who worked in Warren's
office, but we can hold that, if you want to, and start there next
Warren: It's okay with me, whatever your schedule is.
Fry: My schedule is open-ended tonight. All I have to do is get back
Warren: Oh, sure! Well why don't you go ahead, then.
Fry: All right. I'll just keep going. You don't look pale or like
you're about to faint, yet. [Laughter]
Warren: Oh, no.
Fry: Would you like to tell anything about Mr. William Sweigert, who is
now Judge Sweigert, who was apparently with your dad right from the
beginning of his taking office as governor.
Warren: They're close friends. I think that you're going to get more valid
information about relationships between people like Jim Oakley and
Dad, and Pop Small and Bill Sweigert and those people from the old-
timers like them. In other words ask Pop about Bill and Bill about
Pop and Jim about both of them, this type of thing, because there
was a certain rapport there that I'm not sure an outsider can ade
quately put his finger on.
Fry: Here are some names that I jotted down, thinking that one of them
might trigger a comment.
Warren: Well, of course the ultimate authority was always Helen MacGregor.
Fry: Oh, was she?
Warren: She was the A-No. 1 Tro uble shooter , and if anything really had to
get done, she was sort of the second-in-command. She never exercised
Earl Warren, Jr.
command, but she was always able to steer the problems to the
proper place for solution. All these people that you have listed
here that I know — Sweigert, Wollenberg, Small, Oakley, Scoggins —
these people all had their own areas of operation. I never heard
any of them arguing about anything. It was always, "We've got a
problem," "Okay, I'll take care of it," boom — gone. No bickering —
"Why don't you do it?" or "How about shooting it off to Bill? I'm
busy now, " or something like that . Never any of that . It was
always a tight ship. Very tight. And yet it was always tight from
the standpoint of people wanting to do it. It really looked like
the essence of volunteerism, so to speak. [Laughter] Dedicated
Yes. Each person we've interviewed so far on his office comments
at length on the esprit de corps and the lack of back-biting. At
first I thought, "Well okay, go ahead and get all this said," but
I remained skeptical I don't see how you can have an office for
that many years without some friction developing, some relationships
wearing thin. But now I'm beginning to think that maybe they did,
because there's nothing that I've picked up anywhere.
Yes. Well it is true. Dad wouldn't tolerate this. If he heard
that there was something going on, right away he'd go into it. And
if he found that it was something that could not be readily solved,
he'd ask one or both or everybody to go. He'd say, "l can't operate
under these conditions."
But nobody left under a cloud — I mean of these top secretaries?
None of these. No, he was very careful about these people. They
worked out exceptionally well.
So whatever happened must have been on the second or third or fourth
Right, or in departments,
But he kept close tabs, and so did these
Oh, yes. The departments had their problems.
Yes. And these people in his office knew what was going on in the
departments. A far different cry from what happens now. They
really knew whether a department was going well, poorly, or not at
all. There were no questions. A man was told what he would have
to do to rectify a situation, and if he could not reform or would
not reform, that was it! And they didn't mean just halfway — They
demanded excellence in the office, and they got it.
He really did have an incredible number of department heads that
are still looked upon as men who were real leaders in their fields,
Earl Warren, Jr.
What can you tell us about the way he made appointments?
did he manage to bring this off?
He had various advisers, and you never knew who they were. In a
particular area of expertise he knew people that he could trust for
good advice . Then he would scout around and decide on who he
wanted. This would generally — practically always — be completely
unknown to the person who was involved. Dad would find out who he
wanted and call that person in and say, "l want you to do something
for me . I want you to take this job . " And he got some people to
take jobs with this approach that he could never have gotten by
conventional methods. He'd say, "I've checked it all out, and
you're the man I want." And they would say, "l don't even know
you." And he'd say, "Yes, but I know you!" [Laughter]
Or, "l didn't work for you in the campaign."
He'd say, "Yes. I know. But you're the best man. They told me
you're the best man in the field, and I want you." A prime example
is the man he pulled in to take over the public health department,
Dr. Wilton Halverson.
That is, yes.
It's almost a classic illustration of his method of choosing a
We're interviewing him now.
He did this with a tremendous number of organizations. And Dick
McGee. He came in, and Dad basically said, "Look, we've got to
look this over. We have a bad prison system. We've got a bad
parole system. We've got a bad penal system. I want you to do
something about it." McGee said, "What can I do?" And, as I under
stand it, Dad said, "You do anything that's right and honorable."
Now in that case I thought maybe your dad would have had some
specific ideas —
Oh, he had plenty of ideas--
— that he gave to McGee, do you know?
Yes, but you can bet that by the time he checked the man out, he
knew darn well that that was the man's own philosophy.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: He then worked very closely with these people. Yes, there was
none of this business of not seeing the top guy. You could always
Fry: Like with you kids, he always had time?
Warren: Right. He did, and that's why he got this performance.
Earl Warren, Jr.
GOVERNOR WARREN AND THE UNIVERSITY
Use of Expertise
Fry: Another thing that is interesting to me now, since the practice has
currently fallen by the wayside , is his use of the University as a
kind of fact-finding medium for him when he needed to know some
thing, such as appointing professors on commissions. He set up the
Institute of Industrial Relations at the University, as something
that not so much would serve the University but could serve the
general public in this area of labor relations.
Warren: Yes. Of course he did that for two reasons. One, he wanted the
benefit of the brains of those people who were deeply schooled in
certain areas, and also, I think, he wanted to be sure that the
professors themselves would remain politically aware— not just stay
in narrow fields, but understand the application of what they knew.
He had a deep belief in the University — a terribly profound and
dedicated belief in the Tightness of all higher education, but
particularly in the University of California — the public school
system — that he wanted to see it prosper as rapidly as possible.
And I'm sure that he intended for the University always to be 'way
ahead of the rest of society.
Fry: And he saw that there was nothing wrong with it if it were.
Warren: No, that's right. [Laughter] He deliberately wanted them to be in
the forefront. I don't know that it was an innovation, but he cer
tainly made much heavier use of those people than had been made
The Loyalty Oath
Fry: What do you know about the loyalty oath fight? Were you in the
University at Davis then?
Earl Warren, Jr.
I remember a lot about the loyalty oath fight,
tug -o -war .
That was a great
And this was the time when your dad really did go to bat for the
University, as a member of the Board of Regents. I don't think he'd
ever met with the Regents until this came up, for some reason. But
when this came up he was at every meeting and he was the one who
carried the ball.
Well, I think it was a close issue, initially. I really do. A
close issue for him. You know we had competing forces going.
First we had this tremendous wartime spirit, so to speak. Anyone
who suggested that we might not be the greatest nation was —
Yes. Anybody who wouldn't willingly stand up and swear allegiance
to anything — God, mother and country— was not worth having, and so
forget about them. And then, of course, we had the McCarthyism
thing going, too, nationally. When Dad was District Attorney of
Alameda County the staff there was keeping very close watch on
Communist activity, very closet [Laughter] How close will not be
known until he decides to write on it. But it was true, and they
were watching those labor unions that were largely controlled by the
ultra-Left, and even known Communists, and they were watching other
known Communists, and then came the suggestions of Japanese subver
sion. Then these various recurring things happened — they saw the
rise of Nazism in this country, where they had to keep tabs on people
suspect of being Fascist and Nazis, and so forth. So by the time he
came to the loyalty oath question, I feel that for him it was a tug-
o-war between these other feelings, plus, of course, party pressure
which was there, and his own experience, which I think now had built
up to a point where he was able to say, "Look, we've had Communists
all the time, and we've had a percentage of Fascists and Nazis, and
we've had Japanese who have been sympathetic to Japan as well as to
the United States, or at least were divided in their loyalties, and
you know, we haven't really been harmed by it. As a matter of fact,
maybe all these things being put into the pot have made better
people out of us." I think he realized a lot of mistakes had been
made, putting labels on people automatically, and I think that he
decided that this just wasn't the American way to proceed.
Max Radin's Appointment
Fry: Yes. I just thought of another thing in this connection, that Max
Radin affair a decade earlier. Wasn't that relevant? He voted
against the law professor Max Radin for the State Supreme Court be
cause Max Radin was pink?
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: Is that true?
Warren: No, not for that reason only. That's a deeper issue, and personal
to him. He did exercise a sort of a veto as Attorney General in
the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, as a member of the
Judicial Qualifications Commission. That was a very old and sort
of a bitter thing. And there are seeds of that still — it's puzzling
to a great many people as to why he did it. It didn't seem to fit
in with the rest of what he's done. And I'm not clear on it myself,
frankly. I'm just not. I don't know all the factors that were
involved — whether he simply didn't feel that Max Radin was suited
for this position, or what.
Fry: But you think that there might have been something more than just
the simple ultra-liberal, or pro-Communist issue?
Warren: I'm not sure that Dad considered him that liberal.
Warren: This is why I say I just don't know the whole story on that. I've
had a lot of people ask me about it, including members of Max's
Warren: Discreetly, nicely, graciously, but — they ask.
Earl Warren, Jr.
THE NIXON -DOUGLAS SENATORIAL RACE, 1950
Fry: I think I'll stop. Is there anything else that you can think of
that you'd like to add?
Warren: Let's see. I'll just say a few things about the Douglas-Nixon
senatorial race in 1950.
Fry: Someone inferred that maybe Warren really wasn't for Nixon, and he
might have even been pro-Douglas in that— [Laughter]
Warren: No. That's not true. He definitely was not pro-Douglas, and I'm
sure that his personal support in the race was initially for Nixon.
In fact I know that . But he declared that in this race that he was
going to run an individual campaign-
Warren: Dad did. And this was for several reasons, and perhaps for more
complex reasons than I'll state here, but he felt that being a third-
termer he shouldn't hang this label on the secondary candidates —
that he shouldn't force them to throw their lot in with him, but that
they should be free to make their own stars shine , and in case he
ran into trouble they wouldn't go down the tubes.
And secondly I think he felt that, not knowing what the problems
were in going for a third term, he ought to be freer to swing with
whatever came up than before. We had experienced by this time a
tremendous influx of people into the state who hadn't had much chance
to know Earl Warren. And of course the problem of new people coming
into the various races at this time created potential fiscal problems
too, as far as financing the campaigns were concerned. So his people
decided that they would run an independent campaign, and when they
said independent — (laughter) it would be across the board, so that
nobody could say, "Well, you gave a speech for Congressman So-and-So,
but you won't give one for me." That type of thing. So he decided,
"When I run an independent campaign, I will run an independent
campaign." Of course, he would praise somebody if he was in their
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: district and generally support the ticket, but he was not going to
run any coordinated campaign, as they had before.
Well, the Nixon people came to him and demanded that they throw
in together, and he said, "l can't do it." And they repeated the
demand, 'You must do it!" and he said, "I'm sorry, I won't." This
was the first start of a schism between the two.
No— I can tell you he definitely was not a supporter of Helen
Gahagan Douglas, at that time. But I think he subsequently became
very disenchanted by the way Nixon conducted himself in that
Fry: Are you talking about the shadowy phone calls —
Warren: And all that type of business, yes.
Fry: — accusing her of being a Communist?
Warren: Yes. That and the other dealings that were involved there.
Fry: Murray Chotiner told Katcher, for his book, that they planted the
head of the Young Republicans in the audience at all of Mrs. Douglas 1
meetings, to ask who she would support for governor. They figured
that if she came out for Roosevelt, that would force Warren to come
out for Nixon.
Fry: Did you hear anything about this at the time?
Warren: Oh, yes, there was a lot of — That who was trying to force her?
Fry: Well, it was Chotiner, Nixon's chief aide.
Warren: I've never heard that.
Fry: [Laughter] This is what was going on in the Douglas camp in the
Warren: Yes. Well, I know there was a lot of pressure on Dad to combine
with Nixon. The Nixon people were very arrogant in that campaign.
They came and said, "This is what we're going to do." And Dad said,
"You can't. I've got my independent campaign." But they demanded
that they go as a team. And he said, "No. It's not fair to the
Fry: What about Roosevelt? What did your dad think about him? James, I
mean, and the kind of campaign he waged.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Warren: Well, the thing that's usually cited is the one of two times, I
think, Dad is said to have really cut loose in public. I forget
what the first one was, but the other one was at something Jimmy
said relating to somebody in the family. I think it was Honey-
bear's polio, and Dad blew and really chopped into him. I think
it's in John Weaver's book.
There was no affection between the two . They hardly knew each
other. I don't think there was any great animosity either. But
afterwards, they became quite cordial.
Fry: That was the time when your family were having all these things
happen to them. Honeybear got polio. And didn't another sister
get in a car wreck?
Warren: Oh, I don't know why they play that accident up. That was nothing.
Fry: It didn't really throw everybody into a tizzy?
Warren: Well, in retrospect, Honeybear 's illness was more distressing to my
folks than I realized at the time. Apparently it did bother Dad a
Fry: It was such a dreadful —
Warren: But the car wreck — there's nothing in that car wreck. I hardly
remember what it was. I think Dottie got some little bump or
something- -it was nothing .
Fry: I think Pop Small was telling me she just broke a rib or something
like that; it wasn't a head injury or anything.
Warren: Oh, it was nothing I Gee whiz, I used to skin my knee worse than
that every week! [Laughter] I don't think Dottie even remembers
it. Some of these little things are blown out of proportion quite
You didn't get a chance to talk to Johnny Mullins before he
died, did you?
Fry: Yes, I did, and got his story about how he switched his vote on the
Alameda County Board of Supervisors, to make Warren District Attorney,
Warren: Oh, did you? Good.
Fry: I went out about 196^, I think, and recorded him, after I'd talked
to another old guy who'd been in the Kelly machine for a long, long
time. I'm so glad that I did.
Warren: Yes. A nice old guy.
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: That's the only interview we had on the whole project for five
years; we couldn't get any money to support the project, so I'm
awfully glad we chose that one. I'm sorry that we missed Jesse
Steinhart; he died before we got started again.
Warren: Yes. I don't know if many people could fill that in. I don't
Fry: Do you think Joe Feigenbaum might?
Warren: I know so little about him that I'm not sure how he even comes
into the picture.
Fry: How close is Ben Swig?
Warren: Ben's close, but I don't think from the standpoint of knowing that
segment of political history. I get the impression —
Fry: He came late, didn't he?
Warren: Yes, Ben really wasn't in the political picture that heavy then.
He became a heavy much later. He really got rolling in the 50s.
Incidentally, there's a fascinating little book about him — his
life — that his family printed for him for his birthday.
Fry: Oh, there is?
Warren: Yes. You must read it. A delightful thing. You know he went
bankrupt and worked his way back up selling flowers. It's really
I've heard Harold Morton's name, but never in the context of
anything very personal. And the same is true of Feigenbaum. He
may know something about certain types of things, but I*m sure he
wasn't a close confidant. Now Walter Jones knows a lot.
Fry: Yes. John Weaver and I were trying to figure out who would be the
highest priority people to interview, and Walter Jones was No. 1,
with Warren Olney.
Warren: Yes. He's a pretty conservative guy now, and he's a very nice man.
A very nice man. And like Knowland — very loyal. He always did his
job three times better than anybody expected. That kind of guy.
Fry: I rely a lot on Helen MacGregor for advice.
Warren: Helen knows more than anybody. She is the number one resource.
Fry: Yes, and she's very cautious. When we tape-record, we tape-record
on just one rather carefully researched topic. And then we may not
Earl Warren, Jr.
Fry: do anything more for a couple of months, and then we'll get to
gether again. She's very helpful.
I understand your dad is writing his autobiography.
Warren: Dad's doing writing, but he's not doing — I'm sure --any kind of
autobiography. It isn't his style. He will write on various areas,
but he's not going to write about himself much, because he thinks
that that's best left to other people. But he will continue to
express ideas just like he's doing now, and he'll write on other
subjects, for instance I think he's been asked to do something on
basic principles of Americanism for grammar school children. Things
like that .
Fry: I heard he's doing something on his role as the executive in state
government or something like that?
Warren: I don't know about that. That will depend, I suppose —
Fry: It's getting late. Thank you for making time in your busy schedule
Warren: I'm glad to do it.
Transcriber: Helen Kratins
Final Typist: Beverly Heinrichs
> 6 IH
(0 M C
CO -H tO
r<-H C tO
C CO rH
•H -H iH iH
T3 IH Cfl IH
r-f pQ Cfl
Cfl CO • ,
* U /->
C ... . -
Cj •« O CO 4-> 4-> I— <
X C <o r< cflx 1-1
O CO IH CO M
W M • •* cfl cfl •"'O^
• H IH .H IH C CO CO
•"*-> O l-l rH
01 C JH O tt) >*- 43 CO
tO r< iH -H 06
iH IO - /— > -H /— \
IH — C C CO C M C C
e r< rH > r.
• Cfl Cfl tfl -H M^— ' CO IO
• •->*-* c * -
IH V^ <O -H >s
C -H 6 . i-l Cfl -H I-J
-CD McO r< OQ43
4) IH Cfl ^ C CO r«
fn Cfl 2 «^-^ 0) O Cfl
*H S ^^ C C • t-i W
Cfl O tt) IH IH T3 >-— '
CO 4) VH In 2s CO C
i— I i—l to cfl cfl « CO
IH lOS^rHC "In
CO 10 CO r«X"^ K
<-H 03 rH O> 03 4-1 »
O >-) < »~5 W . MX to /— »
10 C tx> co C
4) ........ (H .H 3 O O
£ ^ C C nS S; T3 oi Pi M
O M 4) CO T3 <
CO +- 1 PQ CO »— J CO — CO Cfl
XO SS lnC4->4-l'H
4-> E C IH * tt) hX C
CO CO CO Cfl K tt) M-H
4-> IO Si 'H 4-J ;£ !H,O 3 M
co- KI MX re o co r.
C CO DO 60 >s2t Oi T3 -H
c !H 2 re +-> co to <— '
^H CO IH - - (X-HCO • X
X CO tt) C IH 1-3 CO
4J CO PQ IH .rt •• •• cfl O
Cfl -H IH T3 / — w — >^ f-t
•Hv-^acu^x <o to e
Cfltt) tOlnOCdi_3CO > -)
ClO'HCOO v -'Zr<COlH
tO 4-1 CO
APPENDIX - Interview with Earl Warren, Jr., on his father's career, retirement,
and family life. Sacramento, 1969. Interviewer unknown, possibly for . <..
NET program on Chief Justice Warren.
SOUND ROLL 16 PICTURE ROLL 16 TAKE SEVENTEEN
} " WARRSJI, IT,
tfy father basically is retiring as he said for reasons
of age. His health is wonderful, both physically and
nentally but he feels I think as a matter of principle
that men should not stay in public positions too long,
at least past a point when there niig^t be some question
as to whether or not they 'res operating at maximum
efficiency and even though he has ir.any years left , I
think he felt at the age of 78 » he shouldn't remain on
any longer. I an also quite sure that he feels tftat
this is basically the end of an era, the major decisions
for tho court probably now have been before the court
and have been Piade. Things like reapportionraent, de
segregation, cases of that sort, and fron now on I think
it's goins to take uen on the court to interpret within
those decisions. In other words, the umbrellas have
been set up and there is going to have to be interpretation
within the scope of those umbrellas, they're going to
have to decide how prescribed they will be or hew broad
they'll be, and I think he feels very strongly that
younger r.en ought to make those decisions. The day by
day, step by step decisions under the broad framework
that has been established.
I'd like to reflect a little bit about the days perhaps
when your father was attorney general and later governor.
We've heard a sreat deal about the Warren family , his
notion of privacy for the family, and we f ve also heard
a story that maybe you can tell us, verify about Earl
Warren's phone nunsber being in the phone book when he
was governor in Sacramento. Can you reflect on what
those days were like? Being a Warren child in those years?
Yes. It was rather interesting here in Sacramento
particularly. We led a very public life, and it, we never
actually hid anything whatsoever* It was a very open house,
you know an old Victorian place that many said was
crumbling, and some even said it had crumbled years before,
but it was interesting, from the standpoint of it was
new to us too. The family had always been a bi£ family,
a rattier typical family I think in most respects, even
though my father was in a position of prominence, but of
course coming up here and being known as the governor's
family did create sor,e special problems, but we pretty
much continued just aa a big ordinary family oven though
we were forced to live in somewhat strange circumstances
and I we enjoyed it, frankly we did. Sacramento's a
wonderful place, vie really oade it our home, and I think
practically everybody in the family considers this as
What were the problems of living, for you personally at
the age you were living In , . . twelve years in the
governor's mansion here?
Oh, you feel you have too many eyes on you. I aa sure
this is true of anybody who lives in a position of
prominence, and I think that perhaps of course maybe
particularly i*ith boys, they dislike being known for
anything but themselves. Maybe the male ego is a
peculiar enough animal that it demands that and you'd
like to be, like to think that you're bein?, known for
yourself rather than for your family's prominence.
The gals seem to survive this a little bit better, and
this way explain why my sisters have always been more
in the limelight than the boys. We ducked out with
various excuses as often as possible, and the girls then
became quite well known and the boys generally we
were pretty obscure if not completely non-existent
in the public eye, and that was Just fine with us.
What were the various political campaigns like for you?
Did you take part — wfcx was there nuch family campaigning
in those years?
The girls were good sports. They went along, but as I
say the boys pretty much stayed away frora thera. Of
course we had tremendous exposure, we couldn't avoid
that and we learned a great deal but as far as actually
taking part that was pretty much the role of rcy sisters.
Could you begin by telling me how old you were and how
you learned that your father learned that he was going
to bo Chief Justice of the United States, the circumstances
of your learning that?
Well I'KI really not at liberty to disclose exactly how
that ocurred from a personal standpoint.
I thought there might be an anecdote that we night share.
I've heard that your father believes very very much that
the fainily eoiaes first and to keep it separate that he
would like to spend time with the children on Sunday and
that work should never be brought home, that the family
was very very important. Do you have any notions of
that fron his own youth as he grew up why he had this
rather lovely picture of the fariily which he shared with
his clerks in later years and that you lived through.
Is there ....
In his early life are you referring to?
Yes, I mean is ... or what notions do you havs about
your father yourself that can explain this marvelous
family life that he maintained for so long?
I can't see any correlation between fc what he did as
a father, and what his childhood was. Ke was one of
two children. He had a sister, an older sister, and
then there was himself, and that was it. Very fine,
hard-working parents, but nothing that would relate
I think to the large, very fast moving family life that
we had, and I think the only thing I can say is that
in so many things that he's done, he's siraply rsally
In terms of understanding; this exceptional man and the
things he's done and tho things he's written, could you
look back a little bit to the early years when he was
brought up, Alaneda County, tha circumstances of what
life was like then, in terms of understanding his
concern for the criminal? The rights of the accused?
The iigs little man. What can we learn about his early
years that can help explain how be p.ight have felt about
sorae of the decisions in which he participated.
Well he was raised in a vary wholesome atmosphere and
a fairly rigid one from the standpoint of morality and
ethics. His father and mother were not the type that
would ever bend in that direction. Hot authoritarian
by any means, but certainly people of great principle.
I'm sure this rubbed off on hin, and also these were
people who believed In working hard. They believed in
the dignity of other people 3 and this was always
deeply engrained In my father. I think that he's simply
one of those people that has an abiding faith in humanity
in general and he honestly likes people, he really does ,
and I think when a person likes people in the way that
he likes then, and really has tremendous respect for
thera. regardless of what they mi^ht be, e°od or bad,
that you're going to have the type of decision that he
makes every day.
A lot of people might say your father changed radically
•when he went to the Court, that we saw a whole side of
his thir.kins and philosophy that was not exemplified
through the years here, that he hadn't a political philosophy
before. Do you think your father changed radically on
I don't think he changed one single bit. His record, if
you look at it as a politician has consistently been one
of concern for the very same people that ne's showing
concern for in the Court, and thrtt Is practically every
one who has a £.ood notlve. He's done that. Ke was the
greatest libertarian fron the standpoint of being a
governor In California, as being ATtorney General In
California, as bein<~ District Attorney arid those people
he prosecuted, and those he didn't. He consistently
championed the cause of those who were handicapped,
helpless, he consistently fought against any inroads
of big gaveranent, any oppression by those in superior
positions. I don't see one bit of change, and I've never
seen frankly anything that's been written or said that
really has any validity to the contrary.
In looking at your father's story, the story of all
the years in public service,, the one thing that Just
inight be argued that is something that inight be un
pleasant to his at this moment is the story of the inter-
r.ent of the Japanese during the war years here in
California when he was Attorney General. Do you have
any thoughts about — has he shared any thoughts with
you about how he views thia today?
Oh, certainly. Every tisi body s recognises now, at least
I hope they cio that that was a tragic rsist-ake, it was
a tragic error, but it's something that all of us share
anrl we all regardless of our ages, all had exactly
the same feelings. We responded to probably the panic
of other people as well as to our own, and it was wrong,
and I'ra sure he recognised it was wrong, I think he
recognized it then as wrong, but some tinea when you're
in a martial situation, nany things are wrong, and you
have to abide by them anyway. I think it's quite
unfair, though, to surest that this was his doing. It
wasn't in any way. He was merely an acquiescing voice
to a certain decree, and had he bucked, I'm sure it
wouldn't have made a particle of difference, it would
have happened anyway.
I've read some statements you've made about your
father's reaction to his involvement on the whole process
of being involved in the Warren Commission. Could you
share a few of those thoughts with us that he voiced to
you about that experience and the effect it had on him?
Well I think I'd have to say more the effect I observed
rather than directly what he said, and it was pretty
obvious it was a highly traumatic experience for him.
I don't think in all the years that I've known my father
I've ever seen him go through a period that I felt was
draining on him as this . Of course at the tirce he was
carrying basically three loads. He was ax carrying a
tremendously heavy workload with the Court itself.
On the decision end of it. They had many crucial
decisions at that time. SEcondly, he had tremendous
administrative chores with the court. He's always been
a strong aan in the administration of the court and I
think will go down in history as being as groat an
achiever in that arena as he will with his decisions.
And at the same tiir,e he was spending every conceivable
moment outside working on this ... on this investigation
and the report, and he's the type of man who doesn't have
to sleep eight hours at a tine, anc! I'm sure he's never
done so, and probably at least the last fifty years.
He can sleep for a few noraents and than wake up and
worx: at a hundred percent efficiency and then perhaps
an hour or two later doze off again for a few momenta
and then resume hia work and this he did constantly, too
rcuch so I think, and the full story of what went on in
the eoroiTiiaslon of course has never come out, 'out I
suspect that it was not an easy chore fron the standpoint
of the personalities involved. I imagine it was excep
tionally difficult even to get the parties to agree on
what foria the investigation vould take, and it was very
noticeable to rce that this was taxing him extremely
heavily and I know that he personally had to relive
constantly that assassination, and with hia tremendous
regard for the dead President, I just think that in itself
was mere than a man should be asked to do.
I believe that I read that when asked to head tha
coramisiaon in several books I read, when asked to head
the investigation, your father said no, that he wasn't
eager to, but that the president urged him very strongly
to do It, that It was something that he felt that the
court should not be involved in. You know this business
of keeping the court separate from other affairs . Have
you any views on that?
'.veil that seems to be a matter of public record, and I'm
sure it is true that my father had sorae serious doubts
as to whether this is something he should do, and I
think it's equally clear that the President felt that
he was the only man who could head such a commission
and have it above any question of ....
...leaning, bias and so forth.
Well a nan in political life, the nore we talk to peopls,
the more we find that everyone who seerca to have touched
him in his life, there's a feeling of devotion and
loyalty and affection that is quite rare among political
and among any men of our time, and the only criticism
that we K really hear is from the right wing and from
the John Birch Society that we've heard about. What
was his reaction to the Impeach Earl Warren tiir.e and
the criticism of that period?
Nothing cliff crent 8 than he had ever experienced. You
know he fought that element of politics, be it in the
Republican Party or the right wing element of the
Democratic party all his political life, and he's never
had to be beholden in any way to those people, partly
through fortuitous circumstances, because they never
would support hisi and so he never had any strings on
him whatsoever with these people and as a natter of fact
they opposed him constantly throughout his tenure as
attorney general, throughout his tenure as three-tens
governor, and it was no different. We have always had
a very substantial extreme radical right wins in California,
arivl these people have always been against hin.
Did it hurt hira? Did he feel it impugned the dignity of
the Court? Did he have any kind of (INAUDIBLE) to this
type of criticism? We never read any of it publicly
any reactions that x he had, although we could see
Inpeach P-arl Warren signs on the highways or in the
No, I don't think so. I really £i don't think that that
bothered hin a bit, and I would say only that perhaps
apathy maybe on the part of people who should have been
spoaklng up in the court's defense and in his defense
also, that perhaps night have hurt a little bit, because
there were Dome periods where the voices were fairly
still, which should have been raised, and eventually they
were, and that was *±s fine, but as far as what the
radical right was doing itself, I don't think that
bothered hijn a bit.
Your father ran successful campaigns and won the
Democratic and Republican endorsement for governor and
for attorney general. How has the eonplexion of
California changed in that a man like Earl Warren could
be governor? V/as he in the wrong party, or would he be
today as opposed toxxaaihBr not as Chief Justice.
Within the context of California politics, you can't
say that a nan like that is ever in the wrong party
because we, we like to elect men of that type. The
problem is getting them in in the first place, and
that's sometimes tough. Once they're in we hold then
for a long time and they tend to perpetuate themselves ,
but it is soznetlnea tough to buck the party organizations
Now I very seriously doubt that he s could get a toe
hold in the Republican party today as it's, because the
more conservative elements are so strongly in control
in this state that I don't think as a young man he
could get started. From that standpoint, he definitely
would be in the wrong party. Of course, if this happened
before, he znanaged to get in a position of superiority
and could, I'ci sure he could as eaaily control those
raaical elements of the party now as he did then.
Simply by force of his personality and his knowledge
and the people that he would surround himself with.
We learned from some of the clerks that they felt they
were a substitute family when in Washington when he was
Chief Justice, because he niased his own faraily so very
much and that on Saturdays he would grab them and take
them to ball games and take long walks, with them, and
they felt very very much that this is what he laissed
being with his own children, and enjoyed then. When you
were a young boy and growing up and as busy as he was,
what kinds of pleasure, what did you do together as
father and son?
He'd do anything that we wanted to do, and all we had
to do is express a bona fido interest and it was not
an improper thing to do, he'd do it with us.
What did he enjoy most, was it sports or reading or
movies, what did he enjoy most, if he had a convent and
he would grab you and you would go off somewhere, what
did he like to do most?
Oh I think he's basically an outcloorsjnan, he likes' all
sports, both spectator sports, and I think he likes to
participate from the standpoint of fishing and hunting
and so forth, although I have to concede that when he
goes hunting, he's more likely to be watching the clouds
and mountains and things of that sort than actually
Could you tell us a little bit about your own family and
the ages of your children, and do any of your children
know quite who their grandfather is in terns of his role
in American society?
Yes, I think they do. I think ray children perhaps know
more his role than perhaps even we did in the early
years, and I think this is becuase of the great prominence
the court has come into. When he ...
WARR2H COURT - 17-13
. . . your children, and do any of your children know quite
who their grandfather is in terms of his, role in American
Yes, I think they do. I think tny children perhaps know
mere hia role than perhaps even we did in the early
years, and I think this is because of the great prominence
the court haa coF.e into. When h« was first selected as
Chief Jus tics, I was well aware of the position and under
stood ita aiai^nitude, not as much as I do now, though,
and I 'a sure the rest of the family didn't either. I'm
sure nobody in the United States did at that time either.
The position since he's been on the court has become one
of great prominence. In fact, the judiciary now has
taken the spotlight I think away frosa both the legislative
and executive branches, and thio is probably not entirely
desirable. In fact I think it indicates not so much an
aggressiveness on the part of the courts but perhaps a
leaving of gaps by the legislature and by the executive
Governments, and I know this is this has caused sosio
of the tensions of our times, but it has, it has put
the spotlight on the courts, and perhaps and taken sosne
of the shine army frors the other branches of governments .
No. If the need, if the need Is there, and the other
swo branches are not willing or capable of fulfilling:
their functions, then I think it's absolutely necessary
for the other branch to cone in, and I would say th»*
3-acie thing would be true if the Judiciary was falling
down in its Job, I think it would be up to Congress and
to the executive branch to rectify that situation.
SOUND ROLL .EIGHTEEN PICTURE ROLL EIGHTEEN TAKE MINE-TEEM
What are your recollections of the 19*>3 campaign when
your father ran for Vice President?
Two things stand out particularly.
• f j, »
Could you Just begin that again
PICTURE ROLL HIHETEEH TAKE WSWTY
Could you talk a little bit about your recollections of
the '*t8 campaign . What went on that year, your father's
reaction to the campaign.
Two things that I rerseaber Most about the '^8 campaign
when ny father ran on the P.epublican ticket with Tow
Dewey againot Harry Truntan was that he was constantly
trying to persuads the powers within the party that the
sMissacc ought to be taken to the people much as Truman
was doing. In other yords, I guess in today's parlance
you/d say that Truman was telling it like it is and
ay father always felt that that was the way to campaign,
ana in fact isore than that I think he felt it was
an obligation of a candidate to get out and talk to
the people ami talk about the issues they wanted to
talk about and to talk about the things that ought to
be discussed. Hard issues. He x*as always a hard
iaaue man and a man who went right to the source of
today's problems arid offered solutions for them.
Secondly, I think the most notable event of the can-
a? p&i^n was when Harry Truman carse to California and
at that tine he coise on ... basically on one of these
caiapai^n swings I don't even think in those days they
called than non-campaign trips like they do now, but
It was blatantly a canpaign trip and naturally my father
was expected to boycott this, but he let It bs known that
he was coins to meet the President at the President's
first stop and this caused great diaaay within the party
'Ay father said no, he's the President of the United
States, and I'EJ the governor of this state, and any time
the President cooes to a state it's the governor's obliga
tion to meet him, and he did and Harry Truman was delighted
and they were very close friends thereafter. A3 a natter
of fact, Truaan went on throughout that campaign swing to
say sose exceptionally complimentary things about ray
father and always did thereafter at a every opportunity.
When your father went to the '52 convention and when he
case back, was he how disappointed was he, how deeply
do you think he wanted the presidential nomination in
'52 when Eisenhower won?
It's very nard to say. He's not a stan who ever stayed
on the floor* If he ever was knocked down it was an
extremely Etonentary thins &*id J-s waj s back on hia feet
coins as I recall, he submitted sajor legislative
programs almost on the exact day of his return to
California and that was alrsost inurjedlately after the
con vent ion « lie was Just off and running as he always
had been tssklns cars of the business of California,
and I could not discern any cis.ippolntTf.ent whatsoever.
He felt that was one of the things that happens in
political life and he's always been a political realist.
We've talked to so nany people about your father and
the faiaily and we've never had a chance to really had
the opportunity to talk about Mrs. Warren, and what life
has been like for her during these very hectic years in
Washington and Sacramento. Are the stories true about
your mother ironing the shirta . . . the myths or the
legends. How did she deal with his very public life?
Did she enjoy it?
Well she was like my father. She took what was in
good spirits always and she was a compulsive worker,
there's no question about it. She can go on a vrork
binge like you've never seen before, and this business
of ironing shirts and making as many as fifteen cakes
at one ti^o for various charities and so forth was not
at all unusual in her life. She's Just one of those
types of people, she comes from a Scandinavian back
ground that must have scratched a very hard living out
of the soil for many centuries, because that's exactly
the way she treats every waiting moment of her life.
She gaa goes a mile a minute.
Being Earl Warren's son" and a lawyer, you nuat have had
a chance talking about various decisions that the court
had made in the last fifteen years. Have there been any
that you and your father have had & chance to so round
about or. and differ on?
Well if there have been any that I have differed on
initially I have always adopted his viewpoint in the long
run because I think his reasoning has been correct.
Naturally I have had doubts about some of these things,
but he 'a right, and I've been wrong.
lias he told you hia plans for the next years, whether he's
going to write or travel or what he has in raind? I
understand the clerks gave hija a desk at the dinner
last week that will go into the apartment in Washington
in the hotel, am! I think everybody was betting that
he'd s neve back to California.
I don't know what he'll do for sure, except that I do
knov that he does have this abiding interest in the
administration of the courts, and he does have «ar
various duties ami will be called upon to do other
things as well and I think he xill keep very active in
that area. He also hao a very fierce interest in the
principle of world law, and I would expect his to keep
active In that area, because he's recognized throughout
the world aa the chief judicial leader of the world, and
I wouldn't be surprised to see nia do some teaching.
He 1 a always felt close to the universities of this country,
he feels that they are the probably ultimately the real
source of progress for our country and I wouldn't at all
ce surprised if he were to go into scnc sort of association
with aonfe of the universities, one or more of then, and
actually do teachir./r in a sense.
We wore talking a few Minutes ago about your father's
scrupulousness and we talked about how he mist feel about
aone of the things that have happened, but can you go back
to when he was being, the congressional ....
when congreas .... when your father was up for senate
confirmation when he was appointed as Chief Justice,
some ilra things happened at that tine in which critics
.... I ass tired,... could you tell us about the time
wiien the Senate was to confirm your father's nomination
to the court?
Yes, ray father has always conducted hijnself so sieticuloualy
that even his worat detractors have never be«n able to do
any no re than attack him on the basis of his decisions,
his personal lifo and hia honor.ty, his ethics have just
been above reproach in every respect, even to the point
where when he \*as being confirmed by the Senate, aa
chief Justice and a particular senator wanted to embarrass
the President, this senator had keen/friendly to ray
father incidentally but did apparently want to for his
personal reasons want to eabarrass the President to sone
degree and hold up the confirmation for a while, triad
to find something to latch on to and finally in desperation
just had to come up with a completely fixa fictional
story — 1 can't even recall what it was, but it was
absolutely a fairy tale and it was eventually shown to
be exactly that, but that's the best that anybody's ever
been able to do. He's simply untouchable when it cones
to the standpoint of attacking his integrity.
As a last question, could you reflect for me a little
bit about one could say that Earl Warren voted against
reapportionnent in California as governor when he went
to Washington to the supremo court, he had a different
view. W.iat happened?
Well I think ?3aybe there's a difference between advocating
something aus a politician, particularly when you think
it's only a political issue and not an issue that is
real, so to apeak. Reapportionnent never really was a
political issue in California, except from the stand
point of talking and so it was the only thing to do in
California was to ar.cue against reapportion-ient because
that was the popular thing to do and if you wanted to
keep your political skin intact and not spend .too much
tise on the issue, you naturally opposed it, but there
never was really any serious suggestion of reapportionment ."
Now, however, yhert a sjan goes to the suprene court and
ha interprets it from a constitutional point of view,
and looks not Juat at California, which nay be an entirely
different situation than say Georgia, or Louisiana or
sone of the other states, then he aust of course take
the such broader view and in fact he oust take the
constitutional view, not the politician's view, but the
constitutional view. Hot really very inconsistent.
Have there fceen any decisions your father has nade on the
court that have surprised you, not so such that you
differed with, but that surprised you that he canlEX took
the position that he did on an issue?
No I don't think 30. I leas don't think there are any
that really did surprise zne. The one decision that I
seem to stand practically alone en in having sone surprise,
in fact thinicing it's a very significant decision or set
of decisions wer« those that had to do with Sunday blus
laws aaatx in I believe it waa Maryland, and in those
You car; keep going ....
In those particular situations, the court upheld the
right to have these blue laws which prevented many people
frora having the shops open on Sunday even though they
might be Jewa or some other group that didn't ate a
observe Sunday as the Sabbath and this seeiaed rather
unfair, but it's probably in many respects, the saost
far-reaching of many of those decisions, inasmuch as
it did establish the rtglc right of local government
particularly to sot a you night say a course of social
conduct for the people in the eorsjrrunity inasmuch as it
practically forced isost people to spend some time with
No, the obscenity area is a quagmire that we've only
ventured into a few feet. We have a long way to go
until that's solved. In fact I rather doubt that that
can ever be solved by court decisions, I don't think so.
I'm not even sure that we could ever get a formula out
of the courts that would be Si even half way adequate.
That's a social problem.
INDEX -- Earl Warren, Jr.
Alameda County 45. See also District Attorney's office
Board of Supervisors 61
appointments to public office 54
Bakersfield 34-35, 36-38
black population 35-37
Chinese population 36
high school 38
Board of Regents (see University of California)
Bricker, John 41
Brown, Edmund G. 10, 20, 21, 26-27
Attorney General 4, 24, 26, 33, 58
Department of Corrections 54
Department of Public Health 54
Judicial Qualifications Commission 58
Supreme Court 57-58
1942 45, 46
1946 46, 47
1948 30, 40, 41
1950 44, 59-60
1952 42, 44
1962 (Brown-Nixon gubernatorial) 20
campaigning 4, 20, 21, 30, 59-60
finances 24-25, 29, 45, 59
political base 12
public relations 21-22
Chotiner, Murray 60
civil liberties 31, 34
Communists 57, 58, 60
Constitution, U.S. 39
criminal procedures (see civil liberties)
Davis (see University of California)
Declaration of Independence 3
Del Paso Country Club 10
Democratic Party 22-24, 26, 28, 43, 47-48
Dewey, Thomas E. 23, 40, 41-42
District Attorney's office 11, 33, 61
Douglas, Helen Gahagan 59-60
Eisenhower, Dwight D. 42-43, 44
Elks Club 10
Examiner, San Francisco 35
Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) 35
Feigenbaum, B. J. "Joe" 29, 62
Fields, Al 19
governor's mansion 4-5, 9-10, 17
Governor's Office 52-53
Grapes of Wrath, The 37
Haas, Walter 29
Halverson, Dr. Wilton 54
Hammer, Thomas 19
health insurance 24
Hotchkis, Preston 29
Houser, Fred F. 48-49
internment, Japanese-American 31-32
Jahnsen, Oscar 5, 9, 34
exchange programs 33
Japanese -American Citizens League 32
Johnson, Hiram 22
Jones, Walter 62
Katcher, Leo 60
Keck, Bill 46
Kelly Machine 61
Kennedy, John 20, 25-26, 41
Kennedy Commission 7
Kenny, Robert 46-48
Knight, Goodwin J. 27-29
Knight, Virginia 10
Knowland, William F. 25, 42, 44-45, 62
Korean War 17
Kuchel, Thomas H. 21, 50-51
labor relations 56
labor unions 41
Law Week 39
health insurance 24
partisan support for 23-24
Taft-Hartley Act 43
Life magazine 13
MacGregor, Helen 5, 52-53, 62-63
McCarran Act 31-32
Title II 31
McGee, Richard 54
McWilliams, Carey 33
Mailliard, William 29
Masaoka, Mike 32
Merriam, Frank 10
Morton, Harold 46, 62
Mullins, John 61
Negroes 31-32, 35, 36-37
Nixon, Richard M. 20-22, 26, 44, 59-60
no -knock law 32
Oakland 1, 7, 8, 45
Oakley, James 28, 38, 52, 53
oil interests 45-46
Olney, Warren 62
Olson, Culbert 10, 24, 25, 46
Plank, Ethel Warren 7, 8
Radin, Max 57-58
Reagan, Ronald 10
Republican Party 20, 22-25, 27-28, 29, 40, 42, 43, 46, 49
Central Committees 25, 27
right wing 44-45
Young Republicans 60
Rolph, James 10, 60
Roosevelt, James 10, 60
Sacramento 2, 19
Sacramento Bee 11, 28
Santa Monica 11
San Quentin 34
Saturday Evening Post 13
Scoggins, Verne 53
Small, M.F. "Pop" 33, 52, 53, 61
Southern California 12
Solano County 14
special interests (set; oil interests)
Steinhart, Jesse. 29, 62
Stevenson, Adlai 26
Stevenson, Janet 48
Stone, Irving 1, 41
Sutter Club 10
Sweigert, William 52, 53
Swig, Ben 62
Taft, Robert 42-43
Taft-Hartley Act 43
Tribune, Oakland 45
Truman, Harry 23, 40, 41, 49-50
Tulare County 37
Supreme Court 7, 18, 24
Supreme Court Justice 7, 18, 24, 27, 33, 41, 50
University of California
at Berkeley 15, 16, 17, 30, 56
at Davis 3, 13-17, 30, 56
student activities 14-17
Picnic Day 14
at Los Angeles 15, 16
Board of Regents 38, 57
California Club 16
Institute of Industrial Relations 56
loyalty oath 56-57
Uplifter's Club 11-12
Wall Street 41
Dorothy 1, 30, 61
career 11-12, 14, 17, 19, 22
political affiliation 20-26
schooling 1-4, 8-9, 10, 13-17
Warren children (continued)
James 1, 30
Nina, "Honeybear" 1, 7-9, 30, 61
Robert 1, 8, 30
Virginia 1, 17, 30
Warren family recreation 8, 10, 12
Warren, Christine "Chrystal" (Mrs. Methias) 8
Warren, Earl, Sr „ passim
murder of 35-36
Warren Commission 31
Weaver, John 61, 62
Werdel, Thomas 28, 44-45
Whitaker and Baxter, Inc. 22
Wilson, Jim 16
Wollenberg, Albert 53
World War II 31
Yolo County 14
Young, Clement C. 10
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Earl Warren Oral History Project
Nina Warren Brien
GROWING UP IN THE WARREN FAMILY
An Interview Conducted by
Miriam Feingold Stein
Copyright (c) 1980 by The Regents of the University of California
Dr. and Mrs. Stuart Brien, 1960
Brien children, Earl, 6 ;
William, 8; Heather, 7.
Eleven-year old Honeybear riding Flash, Barbara
Worth Stables, Sacramento, 1945. Photo by Glen
TABLE OF CONTENTS -- Nina Warren Brien
INTERVIEW HISTORY ±
EARLY YEARS IN THE FAMILY 1
School Days 1
Family Pets 13
Mrs. Warren and the Governor's Mansion 17
PARENTS, SIBLINGS, AND THE BRIEN FAMILY 24
Earl Warren at Home 24
Political Campaigns 27
The Polio Attack 29
Marriage and Family 32
Nina Warren Brian
Nina ("Honeybear") Warren Brien was interviewed by the Regional Oral
History Office's Earl Warren Oral History Project in order to document her
recollections of the Warren family and her reflections on Earl Warren as a
A single interview was held at her home in Beverly Hills, California, on
July 25, 1977, conducted by Miriam Stein. Mrs. Brien had prepared for the
interview by reviewing a brief outline prepared by the interviewer. An
energetic and soft-spoken woman, she recounted her warm recollections of
the Warren family, her bout with polio, and her participation in her
father's political career.
The transcription of the tape-recorded interview was lightly edited
for clarity by the interviewer, and was then carefully reviewed by Mrs. Brien
and her family.
7 January 1979
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
Nina Warren Brian
EASLY YEARS IN THE FAMILY
[Date of Interview: 25 July 1977]
[begin tape 1, side 1]
Stein: Why don't we start with when and where you were born?
Brien: Oakland, California.
Stein: And what was the date? I know it was 1933.
Brien: October 13, 1933.
Stein: So you were born when Earl Warren was still district attorney, then,
because he became attorney general in 1938.
Stein: Then you went to grammar schools in Oakland? Lakeview.
Brien: Yes, I went to Lakeview grammar school in Oakland. Then I think I
was nine when Daddy became governor, and we moved to Sacramento. I
went to Crocker grammar school and California Junior High School.
I went to C.K. McClatchy High School. After graduating from high
school, I stayed out of school for a year. I lived in Washington
for about six months and in Hawaii for about the same length of time
and in Arrowhead Springs for two months. Then I came back and went
Stein: I hadn't known that you'd lived in all those different places between
high school and college.
Brien: There were rather unusual circumstances, because I had contracted
polio when I was fifteen. I was a senior at C.K. McClatchy High
School. I graduated with my class, but that last year I was
Nina Warren Brian
Brian: bedridden, so I had to do all my studying at home at the mansion.
I was fortunate to make it to the graduation.
Afterwards, when I was learning to walk and having physical
therapy, I got to a point where I was able to move around on crutches.
Then Mother and Daddy took me to Hawaii. Daddy stayed with us for a
few days, and then Mother and I stayed on for some time.
When I returned from Hawaii I went to Washington, B.C., and lived
there for a while. It was too late to enroll in college. I had just
missed enrollment; school had been in session a week, and they're
quite strict in the East about enrolling on time. So I stayed out
that year, which was probably the best thing I could have done.
Then I decided to come out to Los Angeles and go to UCLA. My
sister Dottie was here at UCLA at the time. I love Southern
California, and I was really into surfing at the time because of
spending some time in Hawaii. That's all I did over there.
Stein: So you had made enough of a recovery to be able to handle surfing.
Brien: Right. It was a great period for me as far as recuperation and getting
my strength back. It was really fabulous. So that brings us up to my
Stein: Let me back up just a minute to your high school days. Do you remember
either of your parents being at all involved in your school activities
or in PTA or anything like that?
Brien: No, I don't think they were active at all in school affairs. In the
first place, in those days it wasn't what it is today where all the
parents are participating all the time and are very much involved
with the schools and the programs. In those days, I know that they
weren't involved, and I don't think that many parents were. I don't
recall any of my friends' parents being involved in PTA, so I don't
know how active it was in Sacramento. And Oakland I can't remember
at all. I was really too young. But I don't think they participated
in any PTA endeavors.
Stein: Would they help you with homework and things like that?
Brien: My mother never did; my father would help if we asked him. But if
we were to sit down and ask him questions, he would get so involved
in the homework that it was really easier to do it on our own.
[Laughter] He'd really get so interested and ask so many questions
and be involved to the point where it was really much easier just to
do it myself. What I wanted were just some quick answers, and he
wasn't going to do that for me. He was going to see that I learned
the correct way. So after a few sessions like that, I never asked
Nina Warren Brian
Stein: You learned that lesson fast.
Brien: Yes, very quickly.
Stein: Were there any subjects in school you particularly enjoyed?
Brien: In high school?
Brien: I loved sports. That was my favorite, P.E. [physical education].
And I loved music. I participated a great deal in music projects.
I played the violin, the viola, the cello, and the bass viol.
Stein: You were an entire string section all by yourself!
Brien: I didn't play any of them well, but I played them all, and I loved it.
It was fun. I loved music, and the choir. I sang in the choir.
Those were really my main interests in high school and grammar school
Stein: Did you play in the school orchestra?
Brien: Oh, yes. The school orchestra, the a oappella choir, and many
musical events. In our school they stressed music, and there was
always music at all of our programs and PTA meetings, so it took up
a great deal of my time. It was pretty much of a full-time job
participating in those events.
Stein: I can imagine. Did you own every one of those instruments: .a violin
and a viola and a cello and a bass?
Brien: No. The high school furnished the instrument if you took lessons for
so many months and showed a certain amount of improvement and
demonstrated that you were interested and responsible. But I never
bought an instrument.
Stein: That meant that the governor's mansion would resound with the sound
of violin practice?
Brien: It was terrible. The violin wasn't so bad and the viola wasn't so
bad, but when I took up the cello that was the worst. The entire
family intimated that they couldn't stand my practicing. [Laughter]
Nina Warren Brien
The cello is the most beautiful instrument in the world, if played
well. But when played poorly, it's the worst. [Laughter] And the
bass viol I didn't bring home. That was just a bit big for the car
with five kids in it.
To say nothing of you I
It must have been as big as you were at the
It was much bigger than I was. A cello is a fairly big instrument,
and when I was in high school it was quite an ordeal to lug that
cello back and forth every day. We lived quite a distance from our
school. The driver was one of the guards at the mansion.
Was that Pat Patterson?
Edgar "Pat" Patterson, Archie Sparks, Elwood, Jimmy Waters — there
were a number of them. They worked in shifts. One would come on
from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon; one would then
come on from four in the afternoon to twelve at night; he'd be
relieved by another guard from twelve to four, and so forth. They
were always shifting around.
But because we lived such a tremendous distance from school —
you know, the mansion is in downtown Sacramento — we had to depend on
private transportation, and the guards would drive us to and from
school. When we first moved to Sacramento and Daddy was governor
they would drive us in a big black limousine, and my sisters and
brothers and I were so embarrassed I We came home and we said, "Oh
Daddy, we can't ride in that big limousine! We see all of our
friends and it's so embarrassing and we hide on the floor of the car.
So Daddy arranged to have a Chevrolet transport us around so we
wouldn't be ostentatious. And even then it was a big thing. We were
so embarrassed that we would have the guard drop us off a block away
from school and we'd walk to school. And here I was with my big cello,
walking a block to school every morning. And, of course, all of our
friends must have known the reason, but they never said anything.
That was one thing I wondered about, whether your friends and the
teachers at school treated you any differently because you were the
No, no, they didn't. Children don't think in terms of who someone is
or who someone's parents are, and actually it wasn't we children who
were anything; it was my father. People don't stop to think. Children
certainly don't. Maybe adults do, but children don't stop and remind
themselves that someone has an important father. You like people for
what they are.
Nina Warren Brian
Stein: What about the teachers?
Brien: The teachers were the same with us as they were with anyone, I'm sure.
I mean, I never saw any sign of favoritism or non-favoritism.
You also mentioned you were involved in sports,
What sports were
I used to ride horses a great deal. Actually, when we moved to
Sacramento I was very, very lonesome because I had left all of my
friends in Oakland, California, and it was a difficult adjustment
for me. I guess I was between eight and nine. It was very lonely
for me for a while in Sacramento at the governor's mansion, and
because the mansion was so removed from the school, we weren't
around any of our playmates or the children we went to school with.
My father, I think realizing this, thought it would be a good
idea to get me interested in horses. A friend of his had suggested
that he get me a horse, which he did. That horse was a pinto pony,
one of the lead horses at Santa Anita that bring the race horses out
on the track. His name was Peanuts. This man who was a friend of
Daddy's, Oliver D. Hamlin, Jr., gave me this horse. We took him to
Barbara Worth Stables, which was the riding stable in Sacramento at
The minute I'd finish school I'd come back to the mansion,
change my clothes, and off I'd go to the riding stable. I rode
every single day of my life until I had polio, except for the winter
months when I skied. In those days I used to ski every Saturday and
Sunday. We were so close to the mountains. But my little Peanuts
was the most adorable horse in the world, and I spent most of my time
After a while I started riding hunters and jumpers for Barbara
Worth. I used to ride a lot of her horses for her. Then I started
traveling around with her and showing her horses in California horse
That must have been very exciting to travel and participate in shows.
Yes, it was because I loved it. I loved riding with a passion. Then
Daddy bought me a horse, a thoroughbred that I could train to jump
myself, and that was very exciting too.
Nina Warren Brian
Stein: What was that horse named?
Stein: That was Nozama. He or she appears on the Christmas cards.
Brien: Yes. Beautiful black thoroughbred.
Stein: And you trained, was it her or him?
Stein: You trained her, then?
Brien: Yes. Her mother was Amazon Maid. That's how they happened to name
her Nozama. It's amazon backwards, isn't it!
Stein: It certainly is.
Brien: Amazon Maid was the West Coast hunter champion in this area. She was
a beautiful horse. When we spent our summers at the Uplifter's Ranch
in Santa Monica, I met the woman who owned Nozama 's half-sister,
Peggy Platt. We used to ride together at the Uplifter's Ranch in
the summertime. Horseback riding was really my great love. And
skiing was too. I truly loved skiing. I still say to this day that
skiing is probably one of the best sports in the world. You have
total and complete freedom. You can do anything you want on a pair
of skis. It's a great sport.
There was only one drawback with skiing. When Daddy was
district attorney and attorney general he had had so many cases of
things that had happened up in the ski country that he was always
opposed to my staying overnight. He never allowed me to stay
overnight up there, never.
Stein: What was he afraid of?
Brien: Well, I don't know, but in those days they had had a lot of petty
crime and problems up in ski resorts. I don't know whether it was a
risque group or what it was, but I do know that I was never allowed
to stay up there overnight. So I got up at three-thirty on Saturday
morning to get down to the bus. There were always charter buses
leaving Sacramento because it was so close to the mountains, and you
could get on a charter very easily. I'd get down there; I'd be so
tired, and I'd get on that ski bus.
We'd get up to the mountains and ski all day long and get back
about nine o'clock. My mother would see me coming in, and she'd turn
on the hot bath and bring me dinner in bed. I'd be so exhausted.
Then on Sunday morning I'd do the same thing. I'd get up at three-
thirty in the morning and start all over again.
Nina Warren Brien
Stein: That's just amazing.
Brien: I loved the sport, I really did.
Stein: Where did you ski? What resort?
Brien: It would be a different place every time depending on where the bus
went. Sugar Bowl, Donner Pass, you know, in that area. Then, I was
one of the first persons down Squaw Valley mountain. It was really
a coincidence. It was just a quirkish thing that happened.
We'd gone up for the opening of Squaw Valley. There was a
group of high school kids that had gone up for the opening of it,
and when we arrived there was a terrible snow storm. It was one of
the worst I've ever seen. And because I'd skied so much in the area,
I knew all of the ski patrol and the ski instructors because when
Squaw Valley opened, they drew from Sugar Bowl and Donner Pass and
all the other places. So I knew them all. We were all sitting around
looking out over this terrible snow, and the patrol decided they
wanted to go down that hill. So they said, "Come on, Honeybear, we'll
take you with us." And so I went up with the ski patrol. I wasn't
the first person down the hill, the patrol was. But I was the first
amateur down the hill I
Stein: You were the first civilian.
Brien: Civilian. [Laughter] We were skiing in powder up to our knees. It
was really quite frightening, not knowing the slope at all; never
having been down it, and then to go down a new slope not knowing
what's underneath all that powder.
Stein: I'll say.
Brien: But it was fun and exciting.
Stein: Did you know how to ski in powder at that point? Had you had much
Brien: Well, not in that kind of powder, no. I don't think I'd ever do it
again. It was really spooky. [Laughter]
Stein: At least you can say you did it once.
Brien: Yes, once. Once is enough. There are a lot of disadvantages in
skiing in powder. I shouldn't think you'd have the control that you
Stein: Right. I think that it's almost a different technique.
Brien: It must be.
Nina Warren Brian
Stein: What did your mother think about all these activities? Did she
worry about you hurting yourself?
Brien: I'm not sure. I think my mother used to worry about me riding horse
back, because she never once came to a horse -show, and on Tuesday and
Thursday night at Barbara Worth Stables we had mini horse shows. All
the family and friends of the participant would come and sit in the
stands and they would auction the horse. You'd parade up and down
in front of the stands, and the owner of the stable would sell you
and your horse.
Of course, the people that bought you were always your family,
you know. [Laughter] The betting would start, "Who would like
Honeybear and Nozama?" And somebody would say, "Oh, I'll give 50c."
"Oh, I'll give 75c."
So we had those little jumping competitions on Tuesday and
Thursday nights, but my mother would never come. And I'm sure it
was because she was afraid to see me jump.
My father, whenever he was in town, would always be there to buy
me, for fear someone else wouldn't. [Laughter] This was especially
true when I trained my pinto pony, Peanuts, to jump. Nobody was too
excited about buying me because they knew they wouldn't get any money
back; there was no way I was going to win. But a couple of times I
fooled them, and fortunately those were the times when my father
bought me. He was so pleased. He would just beam. It was such fun
for him. He'd win a kitty of maybe $5 or $10 for first prize.
Whenever my father was in town, he would always come to every
horse show that I was in, and he would come to every swimming event
if I was racing or swimming.
Stein: So you swam also?
Brien: Yes. He would always be there if it was a big event. But snow
skiing, that's one sport I don't think he ever saw me do because,
of course, we had to go quite a distance to ski, and he was too busy
to go up there and watch.
Stein: Did anyone else in the family ski with you, or would you be going on
these excursions by yourself?
Brien: Bobby, my youngest brother, skied. And my brother Earl skied. My
sister Dorothy did, but not Virginia. Jim, my oldest brother, did
Stein: About Peanuts: I thought I read somewhere that Bobby had a stake in
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: No. Bobby also used to ride with me, but his horse was Porky.
Roland Rich Woolley gave Porky to Bobby. Bobby started riding and
Stein: Is Porky in any of these pictures? [Looks at Warren family Christmas
card picturing family members and pets*] Yes, Porky is one of the
lead horses here.
Brien: Yes. He was a black Morgan pony, a beautiful little pony. And Bobby
taught him how to jump.
Stein: Did he also race and enter horse shows?
Brien: Bobby did, yes.
Stein: Did you often win?
Brien: Yes. [Laughter]
Stein: That's good.
Brien: And a lot of times I didn't win. A lot of times I lost. But there's
always second prize and third and fourth and fifth, and in big classes
even seventh and eighth.
Stein: Would you be competing against other children about your age? Is
that how they worked it?
Brien: No. Mainly I was always competing against adults.
Stein: My goodnessl So that really was quite a victory, then, when you won.
Brien: Well, I was riding very good horses. As I say, I was riding Barbara
Worth's best. So I can't take credit for that.
Stein: Well, maybe for part of it you can't take credit, but I'm sure it's
a two-way street. I know actually nothing about horseback riding,
so if my questions sound idiotic about that, that's why.
Brien: My mother was so cute — when I was growing up she decorated my room
with the ribbons I had won in horse shows and with pictures that had
been taken of me jumping hurdles. Mother was very artistic that way.
She had all the pictures framed and had all of my ribbons beautifully
hung, covering the walls of my room. That she took pride in doing.
*See James Warren, "Recollections of the Eldest Warren Son,"
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: But I don't think she really cared to see me actually jump. I'm
sure that she was very nervous about it. And I can understand why;
even though I rode so much, and I loved it, I really worry frantically
when my children get on a horse because I know the pitfalls, and I
know how easy it is to get hurt. There are accidents that happen all
the time, and they did at Barbara Worth's as well. In fact, one of
my closest friends at the time, Adrienne Hale, was jumping a hurdle
in one of our horse shows — she fell off and was unconscious. She has
never fully recovered.
Stein: How awful.
Brien: So things did happen. It was frightening for the parent but not for
the child participating.
Stein: That's right. And anticipating the worst and sitting home with images
of what's happening out there.
Brien: But I think we were really involved in practically every sport. The
only two sports that I can recall not playing as a youngster were
tennis and golf. I made up for the tennis in the last two years.
Stein: You've just taken up tennis?
Brien: Yes. I just took it up two years ago, actually, right after Daddy
died. I had been playing golf before, and I didn't find it to be
too stimulating. Then, after Daddy died I really didn't have much
incentive to do anything. So then I sort of pulled myself together.
I had talked to Daddy about my taking up tennis.
[end tape 1, side 1; begin tape 1, side 2]
Stein: You said that golf was a little slow moving.
Brien: Yes, it was for me. At the time it wasn't the type of activity I
needed. I really needed something more strenuous and more physical.
Once I took up tennis, I simply fell in love with it. Now I
play all the time. It's good therapy, it's healthy; it's fun, and
it's social. When you take up a game at my age, you can't expect to
go to Wimbleton. But you can enjoy it.
Stein: But you have such a base in active sports that I'm sure you're doing
Brien: Well, it's very easy for me. I don't find it difficult, but I could
never be a brilliant player. There's no way. Unless one takes tennis
up when one is eight years old or so, there's no way one can be a
superior player. But I play for enjoyment, and it is a lovely social
game. And it's very vigorous, and one can work as hard as one likes
at it and work to your own physical capacity.
Nina Warren Brien
And I'll bet down here in Southern California you can play year round.
Year round. There's hardly a day that one can't play. Maybe just a
few days around Christmastime, that's all. Otherwise, even if it
rains in the morning here you might have an hour and a half or two
hours in the afternoon where one can sneak out real fast and get
some tennis in.
Somewhere in my notes it also said that you were a cheerleader in
high school. Is that true?
Yes. A cheerleader for C.K. McClatchy.
How many years were you a cheerleader?
I was a cheerleader for two years.
Did your family come out to the games to see you cheer?
Oh no, no. [Laughter] My father, of course, always came to see my
brothers play football when he was in town. Oh, he never missed
seeing them play. But, you know, it wasn't such a big deal to be a
cheerleader. I mean, it was for the girl, for the person who was
participating. But really, you were doing it for the team. Maybe
today it might be a little bit different. It was just a fun
activity at the time. You were part of the team spirit.
Who was Little Nosey?
[Referring to Warren family Christinas card]
Was that another horse?
Little Nosey was Nozama's colt.
Oh, Nozama had a colt.
It really was. I never did much with her. We gave- Nozama, Peanuts,
and Porky away, and I think we sold the colt.
You must have been heartbroken.
No, I wasn't heartbroken. I think it was very inconsiderate of me
not to have thought of it before that. But what happened was that
when I got sick, I stopped riding, of course. My father put the
horses out to pasture. It's quite expensive to keep horses, you
know. Naturally, I hadn't thought about that. It was only in
retrospect that I thought about it.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: My father would never sell the horses because he thought maybe I
would ride again, or because they were mine so he didn't want to do
that. He was very sentimental and very dear in those ways. I think
it was terrible of me not to have thought of the expense that he had,
because it was expensive to keep horses, even in pasture.
I'm trying to remember when exactly it was. I think it was
after I was sick and up and moving around. I knew that I wasn't .
going to go back to horseback riding, because it was a stage of my
life that was over. And in the meantime I was working so hard trying
to catch up with my class so I could graduate from high school.
Finally my mother mentioned something to me about the horses
were all in pasture and wasn't it a shame that they didn't really
have a home. So it was at that time that we decided to give them
to someone who would really appreciate them. My mother just sent me
a letter about a month ago from the boy we gave Peanuts to. It was
the most touching letter you've ever read. Really darling. He wrote
and told how Peanuts was such a good horse and he was taking such
good care of him.
That's something my father was very careful to do, was to place
him in a good home and to be sure that all the horses had good homes.
I don't know about Little Nosey. I think maybe Barbara Worth might
have bought him, or if not, she probably sold him to someone. I had
no real attachment to the little colt. We gave Nozama to someone
else. And Porky we gave to someone. All good homes. They weren't
given to any stables where the public would ride them. So that's
what happened to my little horses.
Stein: That's an interesting insight into your father — that he would even
be concerned with the placement of the animals.
Brien: Oh yes, he was very, very careful about that. He went into quite a
bit of research. He made certain that they went to a good home,
that they had good surroundings and they wouldn't be cooped up and
they wouldn't be mistreated.
Stein: That's interesting. So he almost asked for references.
Brien: Oh yes, very definitely. Daddy loved animals.
Stein: I wasn't aware of that.
Brien: Yes. When he was young he had a burro in Bakersfield called Jack
that he was very attached to. He used to ride him bareback without
a bridle, and all he'd have to do was just put his hand on either
side of his neck if he wanted him to turn right or left, or squeeze
his flanks, and the little burro would know exactly where to go.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: Oh, and Jack loved my father just as much. The little burro was like
a human being. I remember my father telling me so many stories about
him when I was little, and I used to sit and cry. He had to get rid
of him, I think when he was about eighteen, before he went to college.
He gave him to a man who promised he would take good care of him. He
was going to have Jack for use on a conveyance to advertise Packard
shoes. All he was going to do was to walk him up and down the streets
advertising this product.
Apparently, when Jack would get near my father's house he'd
start to whinny and bray and bray. Then sometimes the burro would
get loose from the corral of the new owner and he'd just make a
beeline over to my father's house. He would whinny and bray in front
of my grandmother's house until she came out and fed him. Then he'd
continue to bray until my father would come home. So cute. I
remember all the stories. They were so sad. I just sobbed.
Stein: I can imagine. You must have had other household pets, then, if he
was such a great fan of animals.
Brien: Yes. Well, my brother Earl was really the one in charge of the dogs.
I mean, they were his love, really. He was the one that gave them
time and attention.
In Oakland we had one dog called Brownie, a Springer Spaniel.
Brownie lived longer than all the other dogs. I think Brownie died
when she was eighteen or nineteen. She had gone blind. She had
arthritis in her legs. She hobbled around on three legs. And we
used to get complaints at the governor's mansion that we were cruel
to animals because we had this dog in our home.
We couldn't part with the dog. We couldn't give her up. We
kept having her checked by the vet to see if she was in pain. The
vet said that she was not in pain. She was crippled in one leg from
arthritis. She was blind, which was not painful. And she would just
sort of hobble around. But we all gave her so much love and
affection, she wouldn't have wanted to have been put to sleep.
Finally we did have to put her to sleep.
At the governor's mansion we always had at least three dogs at
one time. My brother Earl was the one who really took care of the
dogs. I can't take any credit for that.
Nina Warren Brian
Stein: So he was the one who would walk them?
Brien: And feed them and train them. He was wonderful with dogs.
Wonderful. He would take them hunting with him. When my father
and the boys would go hunting, they would take the dogs. He did a
beautiful job with them, he really did. Earl also had canaries,
lovebirds, parakeets, goldfish, and turtles. Just like my children.
They've had everything in our household.
Stein: And he took care of all of them?
Brien: Yes. I'm trying to think of some of the other dogs he had. There
were Bow, Spade, Rocky, Chris, Jerry, Brownie, and Sheriff. My
brother Earl was fantastic with animals.
He had a green thumb and could make anything grow. It was
amazing. During the war we were living in the mansion, and there
was an empty lot next door to us. He took a plot of land about the
size of this room, and he planted vegetables. He was so meticulous
in the way that he made that plot of land look. He grew beefsteak
tomatoes that were six inches across. They did win a prize in a
show. He had turnips that were four inches across. I'm not
exaggerating. He had carrots that were two inches across. They were
so big you couldn't even eat them; you'd have to chop them up. He
can make anything grow, and they grow so beautifully. Earl later
went on to studying agriculture.
Stein: Is that why he went into agriculture?
Brien: Yes, he always loved it. Then he switched to law. Because farmers
were having some real problems at the time, he thought he'd see if
he could do anything about it. I guess the only way he could would
be to get into law and try to fight for the farmers and build up
some helpful programs for them. I'm sure he has all that in his
Stein: I think that he does talk about that in his interview. So that
would have been like a victory garden?
Brien: It was a victory garden. He won several prizes at the auditorium
for his vegetables.
Stein: During the war?
Stein: There are a couple of stories about your father and some of the pets.
There was a Dalmatian named Jerry. Do you remember him?
Nina Warren Brian
Brien: Yes, I do. He was a magnificent animal and well trained by my
brother Earl. But he became very attached to my brother, and it
became somewhat of a problem because if anyone came up the driveway
at the governor's mansion he would nip them. [Laughter] It was so
funny, because he would always grab them under the arm [indicating
above the elbow] and rip out the sleeve of their coat. I think it
happened to a couple of Daddy's secretaries. I do remember that he
nipped a couple of Daddy's secretaries when they came to the mansion
to drop things off. He nipped the mailman. And one night my sister
Virginia was going to a formal affair and he ripped the sleeve of
the tuxedo her date was wearing. And my mother had to sew it up.
But no one was ever hurt physically. This was his way of
protecting the household. I could use him now. [Laughter]
Stein: So what finally happened to poor Jerry?
Brien: We had to give Jerry away. He wasn't too popular around the old
Stein: You wondered why you weren't getting any visitors.
Brien: Yes. There was nothing we could do, and we gave him back to the
original owner. The grounds at the mansion weren't all that big.
A dog could run around, but they did have to be confined to a
fenced-in area. They just couldn't run loose. So probably a ranch
is the best place for Jerry. We hated to part with him. He was
the governor's favorite dog.
Stein: How about cats? Did you ever have any cats?
Brien: We never had cats because my mother despises them.
Stein: Why was that?
Brien: Well, when my mother was young, she had a pet cat. I don't know
how old she was at the time, but she was quite young. She had
suffered painful burns on her face, hands, and arms which
necessitated bandages — only her eyes and mouth were exposed. She was
in bed, and her pet cat climbed up on the bed and lunged at her face,
and she was helpless to defend herself.
Stein: How terrifying!
Brien: So ever since that experience she has been terrified of cats. We
were never allowed to have a cat in the house, or outside the house
or anywhere around. Consequently, none of us are too attached to
cats, although I will say, which is really interesting, my brother
Jim has cats, my brother Earl has a cat (I think — he used to) , and
my brother Bobby has a cat.
Nina Warren Brien
Stein: That's interesting. But none of the girls has cats.
Brien: None of the girls has cats. I'm not crazy about cats. In fact, I
despise them. My children love cats. They let the cats kiss them
all over their face and play and scratch at them, and I keep saying,
"Put that cat down. Get that cat away from me." It's funny. They
claim that parents instill fear this way, but it certainly didn't
affect my three children, as I'm sure that they'll all three have
cats when they marry and have their own homes.
Stein: I think kids are drawn to anything that's warm and furry.
Brien: Yes, that's true.
Stein: Was that ever a social hazard? I was wondering that if your mother
was that terrified of cats, if that was a problem, if you ever went
to visit anyone who had cats,
Brien: No, it wasn't a problem because we just asked them to remove the cat,
and people were very gracious and understanding. The thing I marvel
at is how my mother could travel, having this fear. But she was very,
very stoic. She is much more stoic than I am. She could, I'm sure,
endure the pain of fear rather than inconvenience or embarrass the
owner or in any way make them feel uncomfortable.
Mother and Daddy traveled all over the world, and in some
countries it is a little embarrassing to say you don't like cats
because they practically worship them in some places. In Greece, I
don't know how my mother ever stood it, because in Greece those
islands are loaded with cats. I mean, there are thousands of cats.
Mykanos is a small island which is totally covered with cats. If
you go into a restaurant, they're walking in and out, and they come
by and they brush your legs. They crawl up on the potted plants
behind you in the restaurants. They're every place. I guess they
have to have cats on these islands because of the rats.
But I've always marveled at how my mother could endure that.
And yet she never complained about having a bad incident. But I know
she must have lived in fear, because I certainly do when I go to some
places. I wouldn't say that any of the members of our family have
terrible phobias about it. It's just that we dislike them and it is
uncomfortable to be around them; but if we had to force ourselves to
do so, I guess we could.
Stein: That means that when they'd be up at Jim's ranch that Jim would shut
the cats up somewhere?
Brien: Always, yes. All three of my brothers either take them to their in-
laws' house or lock them in the basement.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: People were always very nice about it, though. I don't think people
take those things personally once they know the story, because anyone
can have a bad experience with any kind of an animal, leaving them
with a lasting impression, especially when it happens at a young age.
Mrs. Warren and the Governor's Mansion
Stein: Let me just ask you a little bit more about the governor's mansion.
There was a magazine story that I brought with me, one of the many
that was written about your family. [Shows article to Mrs. Brien]
This particular one has a picture of you taking a shower.* Do you
It said that you managed to get the -governor's bedroom,
truth to that story?
Is there any
Yes, it's true. [Looking at photo] Oh, isn't that funny? Yes, I
had the governor's room. It was the nicest of all the rooms in the
mansion because it had a huge marble bathroom, in addition to the
big and spacious bedroom. It had a big marble shower and it had a
big old-fashioned tub that stood on legs. It was a tremendous
The reason I got that room is because the room faces H Street,
Sixteenth and H Street, and that's a very busy corner on account of
the traffic. When my mother was looking over the mansion she
decided it would be too noisy for Daddy. So she gave me that room.
As I say, it had the big bathroom, and it also had a big solarium.
So I really had the nicest room in the entire mansion. It was
My sister Virginia had the governor's wife's room. That was
facing, I believe, Sixteenth Street and noisy, too. My sister Dotty
had another room which was on the other side of the house. They were
all nice rooms. My father's room was directly across from my room,
facing the yard. Are you familiar with the mansion?
No. I've never been to see it.
*Robert Coughlan, "California's Warren and Family," Life, April 24,
1944, pp. lOOff. Shower photo is on p. 105.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: Well, his room was facing the yard, and that was the quietest room
of all. My mother took a room that was in the rear and made it into
a study so that she could stay up late at night taking care of her
correspondence. She did not have a secretary, and her schedule was
really very heavy. So she had privacy there. One brother, Earl, had
a room by the back stairway. My youngest brother, Bob, had a room
over the breakfast room.
Stein: Was there another bedroom another floor up?
Brien: Yes. The huge ballroom was on the third floor. This was partitioned
and made into a big library for my father, and another bedroom.
There was also another large bedroom on this floor, a bathroom, and
a big attic.
Stein: I understand your mother did quite a job redecorating the mansion.
Brien: When Daddy became governor, the governor's mansion was in a
dilapidated condition. You can't imagine how terrible it was. The
third floor was boarded off in 1943 and occupied by bats. The entire
mansion had to be completely renovated. And I think that my mother
spent several months refurnishing the mansion while the construction
work went on. She did such an outstanding job.
She is such a perfectionist. Each room had a huge mirror in it,
like here above the fireplace [looking at Coughlan article, p. 105].
She created the most gorgeous flower arrangements. She always did
them herself. The Capitol Park gardener willingly furnished all the
flowers she needed for the mansion for any occasion. The five marble
mantels above the fireplaces called for huge fan-shaped arrangements.
These took a lot of time, and only for teas, dinners, and special
occasions were these elaborate floral arrangements made. Here's part
of one [looking at photograph in Coughlan article, p. 105].
Stein: That's beautiful.
Brien: The arrangements she made were really extraordinary. They were so
beautiful. People used to come in, and they couldn't believe that
she had made them. Although she is not an artist as far as painting
and sculpturing goes, I really think she's a fantastically artistic
Stein: The thing that I've read about Mrs. Warren doing the governor's
mansion is how incredible it was with the budget that she was given
to work with. There are stories of her and Oscar Jahnsen poring
through stores and antique stores and getting Oriental rugs.
Brien: I don't know how they did it. The shopping in many stores was end
less. The beautiful new Oriental rugs were purchased from W & J
Sloane's in San Francisco, selected by Oscar Jahnsen and my mother
at a very reasonable price.
Nina Warren Brian
Stein: That says a lot.
Brien: I think Virginia Knight changed the bedrooms upstairs. I think she
did more decorating in the pastel shades. Mother had decorated more
in tradition with the era of the mansion. But downstairs she kept
the original dark red velvet and purple draperies. I don't think it
could be improved upon.
Stein: It doesn't look it. It looks like real Victorian splendor.
Brien: I hope they're able to preserve it.
Stein: I think it's a museum now.
Brien: Yes. I took my children through a few years ago when it first
turned into a museum, which was sort of fun.
Stein: That must have been fun to say to your kids, "Well, here we are.
This is my childhood home."
Brien: Oh, they loved it. It is a charming home.
Stein: Do you remember much about the Vernon Street house?
Brien: I remember the physical appearance of it. That was a magnificent
home, too, big and spacious. It was sold and used for a club at one
time — and sold again. It was a charming, lovely home. Really very
pretty. But Oakland has changed an awful lot. It's so crowded now.
Vernon Street isn't the way it used to be. It's quite built up now.
Stein: Somewhere I read that one of the traditions at Vernon Street was
having a whole bunch of Christmas trees in the basement. Jim
described it as a big rumpus room, and each child had a Christmas
tree of his or her own.
Brien: Yes. We all had our own Christmas tree according to our size.
Stein: You mean the tree would be as big as you?
Brien: Yes. And we decorated our own tree. We always celebrated Christmas
on Christmas Eve. We had our presents on Christmas Eve, not
Christmas morning. My father would take the children out to dinner
while my mother arranged the presents. It was very traditional.
Stein: Would your mother put your presents under your tree?
Brien: Yes, each child had their own presents under their own tree.
Stein: And then you'd come back and open them up?
Nina Warren Brian
Brien: Yes. We'd sit in front of our own little tree and open them up.
Stein: That must have been pandemonium.
Brien: Oh, it was. Everybody running around, thanking everybody, kissing
everybody. It was fun. It was a very big occasion. Then during
the holidays the Shriners Band would come over one night , and they
would come in and serenade us and entertain our family and friends.
It was a fun time. We would invite children, neighbors, and friends
to share this event.
Stein: Jim remembers your mother doing marathon cooking productions for the
Shriners, turning out umpteen cakes and sandwiches.
Brien: Yes. I don't know how she ever did it, but she did. As I say,
those days I'm not too clear on. Jim would remember them better than
I would. I remember individual occasions like Christmas and
birthdays, but not too much more.
Stein: If you moved away from there when you were eight or nine, you were
There is a picture, right next to the one of you in the shower,
of Mrs. Warren canning.* Was that something she did frequently?
Brien: Yes, I think so. She really is famous for her cakes.
Stein: So I understand.
Brien: She makes the best cakes in the world. And penuche.
Stein: What's that?
Brien: Penuche is similar to fudge candy, except it's made with brown sugar
and walnuts, and it's so rich and so creamy and it's so good. And
it's so fattening. [Laughter] Really, it's marvelous. But she used
to do all these things. Mother's an excellent cook. She used to do
a great deal of canning at the mansion. When people would give us a
crate of fruit or something, she would never want to waste anything,
so she would can it and put it away. Make applesauce or whatever.
Stein: You mentioned earlier about the cook and the housekeeper. I had
wondered how your mother ever managed to keep up a house like that,
of that size.
*See Coughlan article, p. 105.
Nina Warren Brian
Brian: Mother had a very good Swedish cook, Louise Broberg, and we had a
wonderful housekeeper who was very efficient, Noreen 0* Sullivan.
Then we had a janitor who came in daily who did not live on the
premises. He was hired by the state to do the heavy cleaning. And
we had a laundress who came daily to do the laundry.
Stein: That must have been a full-time job in and of itself.
Brian: It really was, because that house is tremendous and there were a lot
of people living in it. With entertaining and everything else, it
was quite an ordeal. Even with help, Mother had an awful lot of
[end tape 1, side 2; begin tape 2, side 1]
Brien: People don't realize the paper work Mother had. That was a full-time
job in itself. People would write and they wanted her to send them
mementos from the mansion; they wanted autographed pictures; they
wanted a letter; they wanted something for their charity. They
always wanted Mother to make cakes or penuche and things like that
which they could raffle off at their charities. It was endless for
her. I don't know how she did it. And on top of the children. And
she was always with us and doing everything for us. Daddy and the
children were her first concern. But she had all the other
responsibilities as well. She's really a super being.
Stein: Your brother Jim described that even to this day she insists on
squeezing her own orange juice. He said once when he was back in
Washington visiting, he came in after a meeting, really late at night.
He found her riding on an exercycle while watching the late news on
Brien: Yes. Oh, my mother is probably one of the most remarkable women
you'll ever meet, and in every way. She always has time and energy
to do anything for anybody. Nothing is ever too much, for her
children and for Daddy and for outsiders, for anyone. Everything
she does, she does to perfection. She does it absolutely perfectly.
Yet she does it so simply and so easily that it's remarkable. And
she loves doing it.
Her father was a minister. She came to America from Sweden
when she was three months old. They were a very religious family,
and the Bible was read every morning as she was growing up, first in
Swedish and then in English. They were always taught, all three of
the girls, to be helpful. I mean, that was a way of life for them.
It wasn't as though they were taught; it was just a way of life.
They gave everything and never asked for anything or expected
Nina Warren Brian
Brien: So that's the way Mother is. She's always been that way. I've
never heard her complain about being too tired or not wanting to go
out to an affair or not wanting to travel someplace. It's really
remarkable when you think over the years how many times we_ complain
about having to do just some very small thing.
Stein: How would she handle a problem of disciplining when she was raising
Brien: I've often thought about that. I guess the most important times were
our earliest years, those first few years. Mother and Daddy must have
laid down some kind of foundation that I'm not aware of, because I
can't recall back that early and yet I know that I always knew when
I was growing up what was right and what was wrong. I always knew
what they would approve of and what they wouldn't approve of. And I
think my sisters and brothers did the same thing. I'm sure they knew.
We certainly knew exactly what was approved of and what wasn't, and
we tried to please our parents.
We certainly weren't perfect, by any means. But I cannot recall
my mother and father having to sit down and ever say anything to us.
I think it was because we always tried to be on our good behavior —
in front of them. [Laughter] It's true. I think they demanded a
certain amount of respect, so much that we wouldn't have dreamt of
doing anything other than what they expected of us.
I've often thought back trying to figure it out myself, because
I would have liked to have known that secret in raising my children.
But that's why I say that I think it must have happened in the early
years, long before I can remember.
I was never spanked as a child. Never once. Corrected, yes.
But never spanked or hit or yelled at, never put down or belittled,
and never made fun of. Those are things my father and mother would
never have permitted. We were never permitted to make fun of anyone
or put anyone down, including each other. I mean, we had to act
decently when we were in the house, even though we were brothers and
sisters. We just wouldn't dream of scrapping, shouting, fighting,
and carrying on like people do today. But I can't really tell you
what their secret was. If I only knew! [Laughter]
Stein: How did your father fit into that discipline picture?
Brien: Daddy was, I would say, exactly the same. I don't ever recall him
reprimanding me. I don't know if he did reprimand my brothers and
sisters. Knowing my mother and father, they probably wouldn't do it
in front of me. So I don't know.
Nina Warren Brian
Brien: I personally think that they were very easy going. Somehow they
established at a very young age what they expected of us, and I don't
think they really needed to use an iron-clad hand other than that.
They gave us restrictions and they expected us to respect them.
I mean, we had certain hours that we had to be in by. But, on
the other hand, if we were late my mother and father would say,
"Well, if you cannot be home by your deadline, then at least pick up
the phone and call and tell us so we don't worry about you." Neither
one of them are rigid people. So, if we were a half an hour late, it
didn't really concern them, and if it did it was only because maybe
they thought something had happened to us. But I don't think they
would ever let us know that they worried. And they would certainly
never ever throw it up to us. I don't think anybody in the family
ever had a spanking that I can recall.
The only thing I can think of that I used to worry about, and I
think that my brothers and sisters might have too, was showing my
father our report cards. [Laughter] He handled this matter in a
very nice way, but he always would say, if we got a B, "Well now,
darling, why didn't you get an A? You're as smart as anybody else
in that class." The only thing that I don't think he would have
stood for, and I think he would have been terribly disappointed, if
we did not get all A's in citizenship. That, we always knew, was
expected. But they weren't the kind of parents that were always
asking, "What did you get on your math test?" or "What did you get
on your trigonometry test today?" or "What happened in your physics
They rather thought, I think, as I look back — and I'm just
comparing it to my own children — I think they felt that it was our
responsibility to handle our schooling and to make the proper grade.
I don't think they would have stood for poor marks in citizenship.
Daddy probably would have discussed it with us — not Mother.
Then also, when we got A's there wasn't a big celebration, and
when we got a B there wasn't a big downer. It was, "Was there some
reason why you couldn't get an A?" Or if we got a C they would say
that B's were better. Just a very nice way of making us realize
that his expectations of us were higher. But they never made us feel
as though we were inadequate because we didn't make straight A's all
Nina Warren Brien
PARENTS, SIBLINGS, AND THE BRIEN FAMILY
Earl Warren at Home
Stein: Did you have any sort of religious training as you were growing up?
Brien: Yes. We all went to the Baptist church every Sunday. My mother saw
that we went regularly.
Stein: Was that to Sunday school or to services?
Brien: Sunday school, yes. I don't think I ever missed a Sunday when I
lived in Oakland. Then when we moved to Sacramento, we still went,
but I don't recall it being such a ritual. Of course, by that time,
I was eight or nine. I guess I was getting older, time to change and
slow down a little bit. It is different, too, when you start a new
church. You're not into it like you were in the old' one. Probably,
if we'd stayed in Oakland, I'd still be going to that same church
Stein: Speaking of Sundays, do you remember the Sunday family outings?
They've been described in some of the books, that your father would
take all the children to the zoo or to Aunt Ethel Plank's house to
give your mother a day of rest on Sunday.
Brien: Yes. I remember that, as you say, Daddy would take us to the zoo or
to Aunt Ethel's. The big treat for me, I remember, was Chinatown.
I think I can remember every time Daddy took me to Chinatown. That
was always such fun because I could look at all the beautiful things.
He'd always wander around with me, and we'd look at everything. There
were some things that were so lovely. I'll never forget, there was a
fan that I adored. I loved this fan so much. It was unbelievable.
It was this big [indicates size].
Stein: A big ceremonial fan.
Brien: Yes. And I remember my father giving it to me one year for Christmas.
I had admired it and loved it for ages, maybe a couple of years.
Nina Warren Brien
Stein: My goodness! And it hadn't sold? It had just stayed in that store?
Brien: I guess so. It was the prettiest thing you've ever seen. An
amazing incident happened to me on my last birthday. My daughter
bought me a fan that was a miniature of it. I have it upstairs.
I'll have to show it to you before you leave.
I'd love to see it. Had she known about the big fan?
No, she knew nothing.
That's amazing! This is Oakland's Chinatown, I take it?
No, San Francisco.
Oh, San Francisco. He'd bring you across the bay.
If we didn't go to the zoo, we would generally go to Chinatown in
San Francisco. We would eat at the same restaurant every Sunday.
Which one was that?
I think it's still there.
It's still there. It's very fancy now, but in those days it was
very plain. They had a downstairs and an upstairs. We sat upstairs.
It had little curtains on the booths.
You must have loved that.
Oh! Loved it. [Laughter] It was such fun.
Nothing can be more romantic than those little booths with the
We'd have a big dinner there and come home and would usually find
Mother in the kitchen eating her toast and jam and cheese. Then
we'd all sit down and want to eat some more — of her dinner. [Laughter]
Let me just ask you a couple of other questions. You may not
remember from Oakland or even at the governor's mansion if he ever
brought work home. Were you ever aware of problems at work or
anything that he was doing?
Brien: No, Daddy never brought work home when he was governor. I don't
ever recall him bringing work home. He was very careful in that he
never wanted his work to interfere with his family, and he never
discussed any of the problems that he was working on when he would
Nina Warren Brien
come home. We'd always have dinner together, the whole family.
He would talk to us about what happened in our day, what we had done
that day, rather than what he had done. And don't forget, there
were six of us at the table, counting my mother. So there were five
kids — Jim wasn't there, he was married at the time — so there was
quite a bit of rhetoric going on at our dinner table.
He couldn't get a word in edgewise.
Right. [Laughter] I know, too, that never once that I can ever
remember — even when he became Chief Justice and all the children
were away — he never got up from the dinner table to talk on the
phone. Nothing was ever that important that it couldn't wait until
he was through with dinner with the family. That was something I
think he felt very strongly about. We didn't get that many calls
at the mansion about business. Our phone number was always in the
telephone book, but no one bothered to look it up because they
thought the governor would not have his phone number listed in the
directory. But here it was, Earl Warren, 1526 H Street, and the
telephone number. It was really amusing.
That's really interesting. Did he used to read a lot at home?
Yes. When he became Chief Justice his "homework" was endless —
always a briefcase full of work every night — but not when governor.
What sort of things would he read?
Oh, he read all sorts of things. I can't tell you exactly what they
were, but I know sometimes he would have three or four books going
at one time.
Would these be mostly nonfiction or fiction? Did you have any idea?
I think they'd be nonfiction. He loved history. He loved reading
about history. And he loved reading about people. Actually, he was
interested in everything. But I don't think I would say that he was
into fiction. Mother would know more about that than I would. He
read so much. Wonderful source of relaxation for him.
Was that something that he encouraged the rest of the family to do
Brien: I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think he pushed reading on
any of us. We're a pretty active family. I don't think we would
have had that much time for our activities, our studies, and a large
amount of reading. My sister Virginia has always been a big reader.
I don't know about the boys.
I know Jim said that he wasn't too much of a reader.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: No, he's not.
Stein: He always did so much of it in school.
Brien: I'm always razzing him. His wife, Maggie, loves to read, and I'm
always reading and telling her all the great books that I have read,
and we exchange notes. Every time I see her, I say, "Well, Maggie,
what did you read this month?" So we're always telling each other
about good books. But last time we were in Washington I had bought
a book that I was really interested in. It's The Inner Game of Tennis.*
Stein: That's a wonderful book. She'd be fascinated by that, wouldn't she?
She used to be a tennis star.
Brien: Yes. Jim said, "What's this book that you're reading?" I said,
"This is The Inner Game of Tennis, and it's the third time I'm
reading it. It's a great book." He said, "Oh, you and Maggie!
She's read this book, too. You have read it three times, Honeybear?"
I said, "Yes, it's fabulous. I underlined it the second time and now
I'm going back and I'm going to review the whole thing." And he said,
"I've got to read this." During our stay there, he did. He read
that entire book. I was absolutely amazed because he doesn't read at
all. I wish I had more time to read. When we go on vacation that's
when I can really catch up with it all.
Stein: I'd like to get your recollections of the political campaigns. I
remember reading that the three girls often went campaigning with
Brien: I think probably the most fun trips we had were when we went to the
conventions. They were really the most fun times. It was like one
big party. There was something doing every second of the day, and
the evenings were full of parties. Every headquarters would have
their own little parties going on. People would splinter off and
have small parties. It was all very exciting, and everybody was in
an upbeat mood — before the candidates were selected. It was lots of
As far as the campaigns, it was always fun going with Daddy and
meeting people and being with people. People were always so nice.
I cannot remember ever having one bad incident happen. People were
*by Tim Galloway.
Nina Warren Brian
so sweet and lovely, probably because they all loved Daddy so much.
He was governor for so many years, and I think that the people of
California thought of him as part of their family. They didn 1 t
really feel as though he was a political figure. They weren't
afraid to come up and talk to him and say whatever they had on their
minds. Daddy just loved everybody. He just loved people. They
must have felt as though they knew him just as well as anyone else
because he was so warm and genuine. He really did care. He wasn't
campaigning and running around so much looking for votes as doing
something that he really loved to do. He just loved being with
people. I think people sense that. They feel it when you're that
[end tape 2, side 1; begin tape 2, side 2]
I think it was during the 1948 campaign when he rode on a campaign
train through the West, and Helen MacGregor helped organize a
wedding anniversary for him and brought all the children up to meet
the train in Oregon somewhere. Do you remember that?
Yes, it was a wonderful party.
That was in 1948.
I remember being on the train.
Stein: And there was another train in 1952. Maybe you were already on the
train in 1948, so you wouldn't have remembered Miss MacGregor' s plan.
Brien: I was not on the train in 1952. • Virginia was. Every year we went to
the governors' conference in the summertime. It would be in a
different state every year. We went by train to that conference.
Then, from there Daddy took the three girls and Mother to New York,
and there we would go to shows and spend a couple of weeks doing our
shopping for the year.
Stein: How exciting!
Brien: It was really fun. So that was a pattern that we did every single
summer. In those days I think the governors' conferences were
held in June, the last part of June. They've switched the dates now.
Now they're later, I think.
Stein: I don't know. But I know then that they were shortly before the
Brien: Then there was the train when Daddy was running for president. That
went straight from Sacramento to Chicago.
Stein: That was in 1952.
A great deal has been written about what an asset the family
was to the governor. People said you could beat him but you could
never beat his family, and there were all those beautiful pictures
of him with all of the children next to him.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: We were there for the fun of it. Of course, I'm sure Daddy and
Mother wanted the family together. So we were all there. But we
were actually just an extension of Daddy. We weren't there to do
anything. We didn't have any duties or obligations. We just went
and had fun and met the people with Daddy and went when we were
invited to places.
Stein: There was one convention, in 1948 I think, when Warren had been
nominated for vice-president. The whole family went up onto the
platform. Do you remember that?
Brien: Yes. That was a fun time. But all the conventions were fun. I
guess that one in particular was, because we were all older. We had
made friends with people over the years: all the governors and their
families, Senators and congressmen and people like that. It was sort
of like old home week every year where everyone sat together and had
a good time.
I'll never forget one sad incident that happened. The day after
Dewey was nominated, Mother and I went with Daddy and Dorothy to
[Robert] Taft's apartment across the street at the Blackstone Hotel.*
It was a sad occasion, but my father wanted to go over and say good
bye to Taft. He was such a defeated man. It was like his last
chance, and his wife was so ill. Just to see the Taft stickers on
the floor and the remnants of the night before was really
heartbreaking. But other than that, I think all of the occasions
were really fun.
The Polio Attack
Stein: I wondered if there was anything more that we need to say about your
getting polio. It's been written about. [John] Weaver describes
when you first got sick.** I don't know if you remember that. It
was election day.
Stein: The governor and Mrs. Warren rushed to the hospital. The governor
was really upset, and you said to your mother, "Please take him home
and make him rest."
*Taft had been defeated for Republican presidential nominee.
**John Weaver, Warren; The Man, The Court, The Era (Boston, 1967),
Nina Warren Brian
Brian: Actually, I don't think it happened quite that way.
Stein: That's why I'm asking you these questions. These stories get
romanticized in books, and you never know what the real story is.
Brian: I had been sick for several days, and the doctor kept saying that I
had a virus, the flu, and not to worry. Then, as time went on it
became more and more difficult for me to get up and move around.
The last few nights before the election, my mother moved into
my room with me because I was so sick. My mother was worried. She
couldn't understand what was happening. Neither could I. Here I
was walking around in the middle of the night unable to sleep. She
stayed in my room with me.
The night before the election, my mother went to meet my father
in Oakland to vote, because that's where they were registered. She
left, as the doctor told her that I was better.
The next morning my brother Earl came in and asked me how I was
feeling and I said I was okay or was sick or something. Then he
said, "I want to look at your legs." So he looked at my legs, on
which I had used a heating pad, and the heat had burned my legs and
I hadn't even felt it. So when he saw my legs were burned, he was
worried and said, "I'm going out for a second," and he went out and
called the doctor.
The doctor came over. A few specialists had seen me previously,
but no one knew what was wrong. After my brother's call, several
doctors came. They gave me a spinal tap and immediately notified my
mother and father in Oakland. They came home as quickly as they
could. By the time they got home, the entire upstairs hallway, which
is really pretty big, was filled with doctors. I remember they said
they had to take me to the hospital, and I can recall seeing my
father in the hall. He was really broken up. It was the first time
that I'd ever seen my father so sad. So I think it was probably at
that time that I told my mother to take care of Daddy.
They had to put me in isolation and closed off an entire wing
of the hospital for me. County [hospital] was totally full. They
really weren't sure what I had at that point, but I guess they had
decided it was polio or spinal meningitis.
Stein: So then what happened?
Brien: Then I went to the hospital. I was in isolation for quite some
time; I've forgotten exactly how long. I stayed in the hospital for
seven weeks, and then I came home to the mansion and recuperated
there. My poor mother worked so hard with me. I would sleep during
the day and be awake all night. It was terrible. But she would stay
up all night with me preparing hot packs, etc.
Nina Warren Brian
Then she'd be up all day?
She'd be up all day, and maybe she would sleep for about an hour a
day or something like that. But there were so many things to do and
she was kept busy all the time, bringing me food and trying to get
me to eat and doing all sorts of lovely things for me. She's
really a remarkable person.
That's incredible. Somebody described when you were first brought
home from the hospital that they hung all of your get-well cards
up all over the room.
Oh yes. That was my mother's idea. They strung them on Scotch tape
and hung them all over the room. Oh, there were thousands of them,
thousands of them! It was unbelievable. People were so wonderful
This, I guess, made national news at the time, or at least California
Oh yes. It was national. Well, it was all over the world. The
literature and the information and the cards and the get-well notes
from Europe — in fact, from every place in the world. It was
unbelievable to see how thoughtful people were and how wonderful
they were to take the time to think of me. And they didn't stop
then. The correspondence kept coming in for months. Some people
just kept writing regularly for a couple of years.
It really was.
Did you, or did anybody, asnwer any of them?
Every letter that was written received a thank you note. I couldn't
do it personally because I wasn't in any shape for a long time.
Daddy's secretaries did it and Mother worked with them. It was a
And then did you have physical therapists who would come to the
house and work with you?
Yes. I had a physical therapist who would come twice a day. He'd
come in the morning and again in the afternoon. I had a hospital
bedj and they had all of the exercising apparatus built up around
Stein: That was a really heroic struggle.
Nina Warren Brien
Brien: Well, I was very fortunate that I overcame this terrible disease.
It's so sad now when you see the few cases of polio that have been
contracted recently by people who have overlooked getting their shot
or their vaccine. It's such a dreadful disease.
Marriage and Family
Stein: We left you, education- and career-wise, going to UCLA after you'd
been in Hawaii and Washington. Then what happened? Did you finish
up at UCLA?
Brien: No. I went to UCLA for two years, and then I met my husband and we
Stein: Was he also a student at UCLA?
Brien: No. He was a practicing doctor in Beverly Hills. He's an
obstetrician and gynecologist. That was the end of my education.
My formal education, let's put it that way.
Stein: Is there any great romantic story attached to your meeting Dr. Brien
that should go on the record?
Brien: Oh, I don't think so. What happened was I was going to UCLA and it
was summertime and I wanted to get a job. A friend of mine got me
a job as a receptionist with a doctor, Dr. Brien. And that is how
I met him.
Stein: And, as they say, one thing led to another.
Brien: One thing led to another. [Laughter]
Stein: That's a nice story. Had you gotten to the point of majoring in
anything at UCLA?
Brien: I was majoring in psychology — for lack of anything else.
Stein: So you didn't have any idea in mind of something that you wanted to
Brien: No, I had no idea.
Nina Warren Brien
Stein: Were you living in the dorms?
Brien: No, I was living in a sorority house, the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority
Stein: You had a family at some point; I saw their pictures.
Brien: Yes. Two years later we had our first son, Willie, who is now
nineteen. The following year we had Heather, who is now eighteen.
And the following year we had Earl, who is now seventeen.
Stein: Let me see if I can find them in this photo.* Is this Willie?
Brien: That's Willie.
Stein: And that's Heather.
Brien: And that's Earl. They're all very busy people at the moment.
Stein: Are they all in school?
Brien: Willie will start his third year of pre-med at USC [University of
Southern California] this September. This summer he's working at
Cedar Sinai [Hospital] cardiology laboratory, and he really loves it.
He's having a ball over there. And Heather will be going to
Immaculate Heart College in September here in Hollywood. She's
been working in my husband's office as his receptionist, carrying on
in my footsteps. [Laughter] And Earl is a senior at the high
school. He's not certain where he's going to go to college. He'd
like to go to Brown or Yale, or UC in Berkeley.
Stein: The only other thing I was wondering: Dr. Brien is Jewish, right?
Stein: I wondered if there was any family discussion about an inter-faith
Brien: No, none at all.
Stein: They're really sweet-looking children.
Brien: Oh, that's a horrible picture of them.
Stein: In the whole huge family, every one is cuter and prettier than the
Brien: We always have wonderful Christmases together with the family
*See James Warren interview (this volume), photo insert.
Nina Warren Brien
Stein: I've read clippings, and Jim told me a little bit, about the Chief
Justice playing Santa Glaus at these great Christmas gatherings.
Brien: Oh yes. They always did center around Daddy.
Stein: The only other question that I need to ask — which I should have
asked at the beginning, of course — is the story of how you got your
Brien: Before I was born, my father took my two brothers and my two sisters
to the zoo every Sunday, and their favorite animal was the honey bear.
When I was born and they brought me home from the hospital the
children said, "Oh, doesn't she look just like our little honey bear
in the zoo." That's the story I heard. [Laughter] And that's how
it came about, and I've never lost the name. The family has always
called me Honeybear, and everybody else does too. At my age I
[Laughter] I'll probably never lose it.
Stein: Children usually take a little while to develop a nickname. But you
had one the minute you arrived.
Brien: We all had nicknames. We were a very big family on nicknames.
Stein: What were the other ones' nicknames?
Brien: Jim, I guess we called him Jimbo. Virginia was Ginny and Virg and
lya and a couple of others I can't think of. We always called Earl
Stein: From "junior"?
Brien: Yes. Virginia named him that. She couldn't say Junior. I still
call him Ju Ju. Everybody else calls him Earl, and I'm trying to
break myself of the habit. I am trying, Mimi, so hard not to call
him Ju Ju, but it's hard.
Stein: Of course.
Brien: Dotty was Polka Dot, Put Put, and Punk. She had a lot of nicknames
too. Myself, I just had Honeybear. Bobby was Bobby until he was a
senior in high school, and then we were told to call him Bob. I am
still the only one that calls him Bobby, and I always will. And he
has to get used to that fact. [Laughter]
Stein: A sister's prerogative.
Nina Warren Brian
Brien: That's my prerogative, right. Whether he likes it or not, he's
going to be Bobby. He's my baby brother. I have to show some
power over him.
Stein: That's right. [Laughter] You're the next one up the ladder.
Stein: Well, that's about all the questions I have. You've been very kind
to give up your afternoon for this. This will be a valuable
addition to our volume on the Warren family.
Transcriber: Marilyn Ham
Final Typist: Lee Steinback
Nina Warren Brian
INDEX — Nina Warren Brien
Brien, Nina Warren:
college years, 1-2, 32
grade school and high school years, 1-5, 11, 23
living in the governor's mansion, 1, 4, 17-18
marriage and family, 25, 32-33
music interests, 3
poliomyelitis attack, 1-2, 11, 29-32
sports activities, 2-12
the Vernon Street house, 19
Hamlin, Oliver D. , 5
Jahnsen, Oscar, 18
MacGregor, Helen, 28
Patterson, Pat, 4
Taft, Robert, 29
childhood in Bakers field, 12-13
family life, 2, 4-6, 8, 11-12, 14, 17-19, 22, 29, 34
recreational reading, 26
relationship with Taft , 29
children, 1 passim
pets, 5-6, 8-9, 11-15
political campaigns, 27-29
religious training, 24
sports activities, 2-12
Warren, Nina [Mrs. Earl], 15-16, 21-22
and the governor's mansion, 17-21
family life, 2, 6, 8-10, 19-20, 22, 29-31
Woolley, Roland Rich, 9
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Earl Warren Oral History Project
PLAYING, HUNTING, TALKING
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright (c) 1980 by The Regents of The University of California
Earl Warren and Robert Warren
TABLE OF CONTENTS — Robert Warren
I CHILDHOOD IN OAKLAND 1
The Family Home 1
Christmas, Outings, and Sports 3
Earl Warren as a Father 8
II BOYHOOD IN SACRAMENTO 10
Life in the Governor's Mansion 10
Religious Exposure 12
Play and Sports 13
School Days 16
Father's Campaigns 17
III GROWING UP 22
College Years 22
Hunting and Fishing Together 24
Father's Guidance 28
Other Influences 30
IV LATER EVENTS: 1958-1971 32
Father's and Son's Work in Corrections 32
Changing Political Tides 34
The Supreme Court Years: President Kennedy 37
Earl Warren as Grandfather 39
DATE OF INTERVIEW: Thursday morning, January 28, 1971.
PLACE OF INTERVIEW: The living room of the Robert Warrens' in Davis, California,
THOSE PRESENT: Robert Warren and interviewers Amelia R. Fry and Professor
Mortimer D. Schwartz.
When Robert Warren was born in Oakland, California, in 1935, his father,
the district attorney of Alameda County, was already recognized as an up and
coming leader of both the state law enforcement community and the Republican
party. Robert's position in the family (next to youngest of the six children)
enables him to talk about home life after Earl Warren was well established as
a very busy and very public figure. I had been told that of all the Warren
offspring, Robert was "the most political," presumably outranking Earl, Jr.,
(who had headed Republicans for "Pat" Brown statewide in 1960) because the
latter had long been neutralized by an appointment as a municipal judge in
Sacramento. At the time of the interview Robert was serving on the local land
planning commission, a significant position in a city were rapid growth was
mushrooming the housing market.
In this interview he describes the Warren family in Oakland at 88 Vernon
Street and in the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento with glimpses of school,
family outings, sports, and a few of the political tides of which Robert the
boy and the youth was aware. Today the tall, brown-haired man has a natural
friendliness and frankness that leads one quickly to use the name "Bob." (Long
time friends and family refer to him as "Bobby" in other interviews.) He rose
to the challenge of a lopsided condition: two interviewers — myself and Univer
sity of California -Davis law professor and librarian, Mort Schwartz, who was
using this interview as a sort of dry run for his own upcoming (and unfamiliar)
role as oral historian with former corrections chief Richard McGee.
However, anyone put in the position of answering the question of one
interviewer while the other listens in does not enjoy the added comfort and
simplified rapport of a one-to-one informal conversation. That may have been
the reason, when Bob reviewed the first section of the rough-edited transcript,
he telephoned our office to say that he wanted a chance to make his answers
reflect more accurately what he was thinking. "Some [responses] don't seem
to be answering the questions at all," he said. We agreed to a plan whereby
he would write what more specifically reflected what he meant. This he did,
in spite of very busy days with his real estate business, and he had the tran
script ready to hand to this interviewer in two weeks. The result is a much
richer, expanded version in the final copy.
This was the second copy of the transcript that he worked on. Unknown
to either of us, the first one, mailed October 1, 1974, from our office, had
gone astray in the mails in the seventy miles between Berkeley and Davis . A
new copy was dispatched to him October 8, 1976, complete with another legal
release and another set of the half-dozen questions that the editors (Gabrielle
Morris and myself) had added.
Nor have Bob's contributions to the Earl Warren Oral History Project
stopped with his work on the transcript. He, brother Earl, Jr., and Merrell
F. "Pop" Small (Warren's former departmental secretary), and I met one chilly
February morning in 1978 in an unheated Bekin's warehouse where the late Chief
Justice had stored approximately 150 square feet of books, boxed gavels, certi
ficates of gratuitous membership to what seemed to be every organization in
California, awards, and other assorted personal possessions which lay outside
the state archives' mandate to handle. By this time Bob was well along in
developing his hobby of family and political history and memorabilia, and
Earl, Jr. for some time had assumed guardianship of a few precious items from
his father's days as district attorney (such as an incompleted manuscript on
law enforcement of uncertain authorship, office furniture and the like). The
result of our pow-wow in the warehouse was that most items remained a family
problem as to storage and disposition, with only a few pictures and significant
award certificates forwarded either to the state archives or to The Bancroft
A little later Bob visited the Regional Oral History Office so that we
could see each other's modest collections of Earl Warren artifacts and trade
any duplicates that would fill out the other's memorabilia, particularly
campaign buttons. Perhaps some day a suitable museum exhibit on "Earl Warren
of California" can make use of our respective collections.
Amelia R. Fry
30 December 1979
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
I CHILDHOOD IN OAKLAND
The Family Home
Well, let's see. We want to start with where you were born, and
Okay. I was born in Oakland on January 19, 1935. Our last residence
in Oakland, prior to moving to Sacramento, was 88 Vernon Street. I
was the last of six children.
You just had seven years in Oakland.
So you had some preschool years in Oakland?
I believe it was to the second grade.
Why don't you describe your house in Oakland? No one has ever told
us what it was like. Do you remember anything about it?
Yes, I remember a great deal about the house. I have a beautiful
picture of it on the wall over here.
It was in Piedmont?
It was in Oakland.
Oh, it wasn't in Piedmont?
No. We had a home in Piedmont, but we moved before I was born. The
family moved to 88 Vernon Street, which is right on the other side
of the hill overlooking Lake Merritt. It was up just a few blocks
from Lake Merritt.
Yes. I know the area you mean. The high side of Lake Merritt?
Warren: The high side, yes. I was down there the other day, and they've
constructed a large high-rise that now blocks the view of the lake.
It was a very nice home and must have been on two or more acres of
land in all. I think my parents bought it during the Depression,
and they must have bought it for a very reasonable price at that
Fry: Yes. A "normal human" being couldn't touch land like that now.
Warren: Yes. Right now it must be zoned high-density land. I believe a
Catholic organization or some other religious organization [bought
it], and they converted it to a school for a short time, and then
it was sold to the Jewish Fellowship, and since then, it's been
sold to an organization sponsoring a home for unwed mothers.
Fry: So it's become an institution?
Warren: It's become an institution since we moved. Well, not quite since
we left, because my oldest brother lived in it for a number of years,
When we came to Sacramento, Jim wasn't quite out of the service,
because the war was still on, but as soon as the war was over he
came back and lived in it for a short while.
Fry: Oh yes. You didn't have to sell that home to buy one in Sacramento,
because you already had the governor's mansion to live in.
Warren: Yes. So it was occupied for most of the time that we were gone.
Fry: To be a school later, it must have been quite a big house.
Warren: It had a third floor, with a library and two bedrooms and a
bathroom. And then on the second floor we had four bedrooms. On
the first floor there was a kitchen, breakfast room, a dining area,
a living room, and a solarium (which you don't hear of much any
Fry: On one end of the house, with glass all around?
Warren: Yes, and a kitchen and a breakfast room, and a formal dining room.
And then it had a beautiful basement. It was so large that each
child had room for his or her own Christmas tree. There were six
Christmas trees when we had Christmas. And each was the size of the
Fry: You mean in each room, or all together?
Warren: No, in the basement. It had a hardwood floor, and it was j-ust like
a very large recreation room.
Christmas, Outings, and Sports
Fry: A big recreation room?
Warren: Right. And everybody had their own tree the same size as they were.
Fry: And each one of you decorated your own tree?
Warren: Yes, we each decorated our tree, and all watched Santa Glaus go down
Fry: Did you all go together to pick out the trees?
Warren: I don't recall how we got the trees. I don't recall going out and
cutting the trees or anything like that.
Fry: I'm thinking of six kids — it would be quite a trip!
Schwartz: Who played Santa Glaus? Was that your father?
Warren: No. The two of them always got the presents down there, but one of
the family always knew when they were going downstairs, so somebody
always was the spy. [Laughter]
Fry: Did you know what you were going to get for Christmas?
Warren: No, we never knew what we were going to get. We always had Christmas
Eve for the family, and when Christmas morning came, we went down
and had the stockings in front of the chimney.
Fry: Oh, I see. But you opened the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve.
Warren: Yes. But in addition to Christmas Eve, there was Santa Glaus leaving
gifts for Christmas morning.
Fry: Was your Aunt Ethel at the Christmas celebrations? Or your grand
Warren: No, I don't recall any of my grandparents, other than my grandmother
on my mother's side. But I don't recall any of the grandparents
coming to Christmas. I recall the day my father's mother passed
away; I guess I was probably four or five. My recollection is that
it had something to do with an anesthetic given during some dental
work. I was pretty young then and unable to really understand what
was going on.
We didn't have any grandparents when we were growing up; at
least I didn't, since I was the youngest in the family. And of
Warren: course my mom always felt that was a disadvantage for youngsters
not to have grandparents.
Fry: Where were your mother's parents?
Warren: Well, her father passed away before I was born, and her mother
lived in Oakland. She lived somewhere in downtown Oakland, which
I now guess is the older part of Oakland and undoubtedly is under
redevelopment. I recall going down there and seeing her, but
that's really fuzzy in my memory. That part of my memory has to
stretch back to the late 1930s.
Fry: It sounds as if she might have been pretty old.
Warren: Yes, she was quite old.
Fry: And not able to get out much?
Warren: She didn't get around. I don't ever recall her coming over to the
house. My father's mother also lived in Oakland and, as you
undoubtedly know, my father's father was murdered in Bakersfield.
Fry: Did he come up here very often?
Warren: No, I can only recall seeing him once.
Schwartz: Did you keep any animals out there, in that big back yard?
Warren: No. It was surrounded by homes. It was in a residential area,
except for across the street where there was a large vacant field —
and, I might add, it's still vacant. It has never been developed
in all those years. It was a beautiful piece of property, but we
didn't have animals. My mother is deathly afraid of cats, and
some of this fear carries over into other animals. She just can't
even stand to be near a fur coat, for fear that it might be a cat.
So we didn't have any cats, and I don't recall we ever had any dogs
in Oakland. However, we had kennels in Sacramento, and both Earl
and I had dogs while we lived in Sacramento.
The Oakland house was just really a beautiful home and a great
place for children to be raised in — large, fruit bearing trees,
plenty of places to build forts in.
Schwartz: Did neighborhood kids come in, or where did playmates come from?
Warren: On, they came from all over the neighborhood and from school.
School was about, oh, a mile and a half, I guess, from home. We
walked to school every day. The schools were close together. The
junior high and elementary were close together, but the high school
Warren: was in a different direction. However, most of us were young when
we lived in Oakland, and I believe only Virginia was at high school
Fry: Did you have kindergarten?
Warren: Yes. I believe I had a kindergarten and first grade in Oakland and
then moved to Sacramento for the second grade.
Fry: Your father at that time was at a very busy part of his career as
district attorney. Was he able to be with the kids very much at
home? I have read that he was a hard worker as a district attorney
and expected his staff to do night work because he did night work.
Everyone then, all over the United States, was expected to work on
Saturdays. This was before the five-day work week.
Warren: We saw quite a bit of him for dinner. [Telephone interruption]
Fry: Let's see, where were we?
Warren: Oh, about Dad's relationship with the family. He used to be there
at dinner almost every night. I can recall his being —
Fry: That must have taken a lot of planning and reserving a place on
his calendar —
Warren: He used to be there when he was district attorney and attorney
general. It changed somewhat when he became governor. But he
used to be there in the evenings for dinner. We used to all eat as
a family together. Sunday was always the day when everybody went
out to dinner, and my mom never had to face being the cook on
Sunday. That was the day when she was treated to dinner, so we
normally went out to the Athens Club in Oakland.
Fry: John Weaver and some other people I've talked to said that Earl
Warren always took his kids out on Sunday to the park or to the
beach or somewhere and played. Was that true when you were growing
Warren: Yes. Usually what took place was we went to church (Sunday school).
Then while we were at Sunday school, Mom was cooking, and when we
got back, the kids would all go with Dad some place, and the balance
of the day was set aside for Mom to do what she wanted to do. Then
that night we'd all come back and go to dinner as a family. My
mother didn't go on the Sunday outings. She kind of had one day
where she didn't have to put up with us kids.
What kind of places did you go?
Warren: Oh, we'd go down to Lake Merritt, or over to Fleishhacker Zoo, or
to the beach, or to a museum.
Schwartz: How did you decide where you wanted to go?
Fry: Getting six kids to decide on one place must have —
Warren: Yes, I can't recall any real problems in that respect, but it seems
like there was always some interesting place to go. There were a
lot of things down at Lake Merritt to do, such as feeding the ducks
and geese, or boating or fishing. However, remember I was somewhere
in the age range of zero to seven while all this was going on.
Fry: You were at the goose-feeding stage.
Warren: That's right. And I'd just tag along.
Fry: I'll bet you would have had to be a veritable superman to have
gotten a word in in making a decision on where to go, with everybody
older than you.
Warren: There were only five at the time; Jim was already away at school.
I think he was at Harvard Business College at that time.
Fry: Jim is where now?
Warren: St. Helena.
Fry: Is he in real estate there?
Warren: Yes, he's a realtor.
Fry: Okay. I want to talk to him, too.
Schwartz: Did you have household help in Oakland?
Warren: Not really. We had a woman who came in as a babysitter. She was an
older woman, but not a typical babysitter like today's teenager.
She was an older woman who came in, and when the folks were gone
she did the cooking and cared for the kids.
Fry: You mean your mother normally kept that house clean by herself,
with six kids running around in it?!
Warren: Oh, yes. She'd do it today if she lived in it. She's a very active
woman. She's still extremely active.
Fry: She didn't have all the conveniences that we have now, either. I
mean, no dishwasher.
Warren: No, and she had a lot of stairs. It was up and down and up and down
all day long, with six kids, or five kids living there in the house,
as it was .
Fry: Did you kids do any of it?
Warren: Oh, we had our chores of keeping the rooms clean, and cleaning up
around the house and doing the yard work. Well, I was too young to
do the yard work and cleaning.
I guess it was mostly Earl, Jr., who did the yard work, because
he was the only boy old enough to do that kind of work at the time.
Schwartz: Did your father do any of the yard work?
Warren: Not that I recall. I really can't recall him ever doing much in
the way of yard work.
Fry: Your father is such a football fan and still is — did you ever play
football on those two acres you had?
Warren: Yes, we used to play a lot of football in the front yard. It really
wasn't designed for that use as it had several very sharp drop-off s
on the grass area, so you couldn't run for a very long distance.
But we did play something that resembled football in the front yard.
Fry: And he was playing with you?
Warren: Yes, occasionally. I might add that my father was a pretty good
baseball player at one time.
Fry: Yes. I think I've been told he played baseball at Cal.
Warren: Yes. He was quite small when he entered, but I understand he came
out weighing considerably more.
Fry: He was the shortest one in his graduating class at Bakersfield as
a senior. And then he apparently continued to grow.
Warren: I've never seen a picture of him in high school. But my father told
me on several occasions that he entered Cal at 130 pounds as a
freshman, and when he graduated he was over 200 pounds.
Fry: I guess he has maintained his big interest in football. I was
wondering if he was able to coach you kids. You played football
later, didn't you, in school?
Warren: Yes. I played later. Jim played and Earl also. His interest in
football has probably grown in the last few years , with the growth
of professional football. He watches everything on TV and goes
to as many games as he possibly can in Washington.
Well, what kind of schools did you kids go to in Oakland?
would you characterize them?
Well, let's see. Typical public schools. There wasn't very much in
the way of schools in Oakland then. I think we went to Lake Merritt
Elementary School, which I believe still retains the same name today.
How close could your parents be to your teachers and school
activities at that time?
I think it was pretty distant, but I can't really recall. I don't
think it compares to anything like today's system, at least not
like the Davis system, where they have parent-teacher conferences
all the time. It was pretty much the report card system. Bring
home the report card and find out what the kids were doing.
It was between you and your teacher.
Yes. Of course, I think I probably had only one year's report card
while in Oakland.
Earl Warren as a Father
Schwartz: At that point, did you have any feeling that you might be looked at
differently because your father was the D.A.?
Warren: No, I can't ever recall any comment made while I lived in the city
Schwartz: Did he ever say anything to any of the kids about his place in
public life, and any philosophy or anything about how you should
manage your lives?
Warren: No. Never. You sensed an expectation, and that's how most people
behave, based on expectations of other people. I'm sure he
expected us to behave like any other kids would; if we performed
that way, then there wouldn't be any real problem.
Fry: There wasn't any formal request or pep talk?
Warren: No, I don't think any more than any other kids would have, when you
go out. There's always a little "toning up" to do when going out
with a large family. Oh, I can recall my mom on several occasions
making some kind of innuendo that it would be rough on Dad's career
if something happened. But it was never pinpointed to anybody in
the family. It was in reference to something happening to some
other political figure. It was always like, "Wouldn't it be
terrible if something like that happened to our family!" in reference
to something that happened to another political figure.
Did your father ever talk about the work he did?
No, he really didn't. He never talked much about work when he got
home unless somebody asked him a specific question about what was
going on. He is more of a listener than he is a talker, and I
recall that almost every question you asked him was answered with
a question back to you. That's the way he operates, particularly
if it's a philosophical question in nature. If it's a fact, and
he knows it, he'll tell you that fact, but he always encouraged us
to do our own thinking and to come up with our own answers . He
never really argues or tries to convince a person that they should
think the way he does. He just presents his side of it, and if you
don't agree with it, he accepts that.
Did he ever make you feel like you were on the witness stand, or
otherwise that he was functioning like a lawyer in his relationship
No. He was a trial lawyer most of those years, but I can't ever
recall that approach.
Did he ever have to handle the discipline, or was he just not
around enough to do that?
He never had to, really. There was never any physical punishment
whatsoever. There were the usual things that take their course
during the day where, you know, "Go to your room and stay there
until I come and talk to you!" That kind of thing. There were
never any spankings — not that we were angels, but we knew what he
expected, and we knew how far to step across the line before getting
Were you afraid of him?
No, I don't think so. However,
their position in the family.
I think everybody certainly knew
Are you saying it wasn't as buddy-buddy and as much of a peer
relationship between the parents and the kids as American families
tend to be today?
Yes. The family appears to be much looser now than then. There was
no way that we would ever call him "Earl." And you do see that
Warren: quite frequently now in families where the son calls the father by
his first name. At that time in our lives, I don't think there was
ever a consideration of that approach.
Fry: You called him "Dad"?
Schwartz: How did your mother refer to him when she talked to him?
Warren: I always referred to him as Dad, and my mother also used the term
Dad in referring to him. Our relationship was certainly not one
you would call a buddy-buddy relationship. It was a relationship
in which we all had a considerable amount of respect for each other,
and everyone seemed to know his role in the family.
Schwartz: Did you feel that you could always speak out without fear of being
ridiculed or criticized?
Warren: That's always a difficult question for me to answer because the
audience was usually a large one whenever our family was together.
But if you're asking specifically regarding my dad, I never felt
uncomfortable speaking out on how I felt about an issue. However,
there were my sisters and brothers who, like normal sisters and
brothers, would sometimes make it uncomfortable to speak out on
something. Nothing malicious — just the normal giggling and horsing
II BOYHOOD IN SACRAMENTO
Life in the Governor's Mansion
Fry: Let's go on to Sacramento. I was wondering if there was much
change in his availability to the family once he became governor.
Warren: Yes. There's no question but that when he became governor he was
on the move all the time. There was still a real attempt to get
home for dinner together, but there was very little contact in the
morning except a quick greeting in passing. So, he was gone all day,
and unless we saw him in the morning, if he didn't come home that
night, then it would be the whole cycle without seeing him for
another day. So very quickly you could lose two or three days if
he was out of town. Or if the timing just wasn't correct, with all
of the various activities that we had as children, we might miss him
at dinnertime. I might mention that dinner used to be somewhat of
an educational process when he was home. I don't know if you recall
the history questions that used to be in the Chronicle or Examiner
Fry: On current events?
Warren: On current events, yes, or world history, or sports, or it could be
anything. Each night it was different. So we used to do that
almost every night when he was home. I don't recall how it got
started, but I think one of the kids brought it in and said, "Let's
do this tonight," and it then became almost a tradition with our
meals. Somebody would always serve as moderator and ask the question,
and then each person at the table would have an opportunity to answer
Fry: And were you ever moderator, as the youngest?
Warren: I think we just rotated around, but I was able to be moderator
I see. I think what you're telling me may be the story that someone
told me to be sure and get from you: a story of an "Information,
Please" game that you played, and you were the moderator.
Yes, that was the game. That was the one in the newspapers.
Well, that's the story, then. It sounded like a sneaky way to keep
you kids educated.
Did you keep score?
Yes, we kept score who got the questions right, just to see who was
the "smartest." And then, I recall at the end we'd see if we knew
all the answers within our group. And then that usually sparked
some research if someone challenged the answer. They might go look
it up and try to find it in order to prove the newspaper wrong.
Was this just for the children, or did you include your father?
Oh, it was very much for the entire family. If he wasn't there,
we didn't usually do it.
Did your mother take part in it, too?
Sometimes she did. But she usually assumed the role of a listener,
and unless she knew the answer very quickly, she didn't throw in a
comment. She also was very busy with dinner usually.
Yes, I have the impression that your mother was always coining and
going to the kitchen.
Yes, she never sat down and ate with us for any long period of time.
She might sit down for a minute, but then she was up and around.
She'd do the cooking at the mansion?
Not in the mansion. Well, it seemed to me at the first that she
did some cooking. After that, she did breakfast and lunch and
somebody did the cooking for dinner. Most of the time while I was
in school, she was making lunches. We were all brown bag carriers
at lunch. She gradually got out of cooking, due to the many other
things she had to do. But even when she wasn't cooking, she was
always running around helping and doing things.
Is it true that she was a big cake-baker?
Yes. She made many, many cakes and pounds of candy. In reality,
she probably did more cooking than if she was cooking three meals
a day. There was always some charity or some activity which she
was cooking cakes and candy for.
Fry: Was this for clubs and church activities?
Warren: Yes. She belonged to a group called the Tuesday Club (I think it's
still active in Sacramento) , and they used to have cake sales and
different things, and so she was doing a great deal of cooking for
Fry: That reminds me: when you were talking about Sunday school, did I
ask you which Sunday school you went to?
Warren: No, we didn't discuss that, but we did go to the First Baptist.
Fry: Did you continue this in Sacramento?
Warren: Only intermittently. It seems to me that we all went to the same
church in Oakland, but when we got to Sacramento we never really did
zero in on any one church. For a period of time it was the First
Baptist Church on L Street in Sacramento, and also my sisters went
to the Methodist church in the same general vicinity. There was a
Baptist church right next to the mansion, and on occasions we'd
attend that, but normally it was the other church further out on
Fry: But you did go to church each Sunday?
Fry: Even though the church changed?
Warren: Well, we went through most of the Sunday school process but didn't
really continue on to church services after that period.
Schwartz: Was the church in Oakland a Southern Baptist or Northern Baptist?
Warren: Northern Baptist.
Schwartz: Did this represent a problem in your church-hunting in Sacramento?
Was that why you didn't settle on any?
Warren: I'm not sure what it was. I'm really not sure why it was that we
didn't settle on one church in the Sacramento area.
Fry: Did you ever have the impression that your family was particularly
loyal to any one denomination?
No. There was never any exposure to anything other than a
generally broad religious perspective.
Was there any family consternation about this being a "mixed
marriage"? [Referring to the marriage of Robert's brother Jim
to Margaret, a Catholic.]
No. I think there was some preliminary discussion between Margaret
and Jim as to how the children would be raised, but that was never
a big question in our family.
Yes. One other question on the churches:
in the synagogues at that time?
Was there any interest
Play and Sports
Fry: I went through the governor's mansion last time I was in Sacramento
and took the tourist tour through it.
Warren: We did, too, last year. We took the kids over and went through it.
Fry: What did you think about the way they have it fixed up now? Does it
still look like it did when you lived in it?
Warren: It looks a lot like it did then. They gave us such an abbreviated
tour of the mansion that it's just not the same thing as being able
to go through on your own. But it's a great deal like it was then.
They haven't changed it very much.
Fry: There's a lot of space downstairs. Was any of that used for the
family, or did the family live primarily on the second and third
Warren: We used the entire house when we were there. There were five kids
Fry: Where was the study?
Warren: The study was on the third floor.
Fry: Oh, it was?
Warren: Yes. We didn't use that as much as my dad did. He used that quite
a bit. Then the very upper part was of no value at all. The attic
went all the way up to the very top of the home.
Fry: Is that one teeny little —
Warren: Little room. It was a sun room.
Fry: That sounds like a nice place, in a big family, if a kid wanted to
go away from the rest of them.
Warren: Yes. It was possible to get up there and kind of hide out a little
bit. The total area of the room was about five by five at the very
top, with four large window.s from which you could look in any
direction around the city.
Fry: It was sort of a view place.
Warren: That was all it was. And there was only enough room for one person
to go up the stairs at a time. I'm sure that's why they don't let
anybody up that high on the present tours.
Fry: When you were in the governor's mansion, where did you kids play?
When I went through it, I couldn't really see much space around it.
I think even at that time it was in the middle of a business district,
Warren: It hasn't changed a great deal. We played in the yard where the
swimming pool is now. [Governor Edmund G.] Brown put the swimming
pool in; before that it was a big open area — or open grassy area.
We played there, and then the basement. You may not have made it
into the basement, but the basement's very big and there were a lot
of areas down there. But we didn't do an awful lot of playing right
there on the grounds, because we had horseback riding to do every
day, and we were always kind of scattered around the community.
Fry: And you had someone to provide transportation to other places. Did
you go to parks and places like that? Was there a club that the
family belonged to?
Warren: Yes — the Del Paso Country Club.
Fry: Yes. Did you go there too?
Warren: We went there mostly in the summertime when we were in Sacramento,
or in the springtime when it warmed up. I believe the governor
received an honorary membership to the club.
Fry: Were you swimming or were you golfing?
Warren: We were swimming. We didn't golf very much, just horse around.
Fry: Your dad was mostly a swimmer, right?
Warren: He swam mostly, yes. I think his clubs are still there at that
country club. I don't think he ever played.
Schwartz: Did he ever go horseback riding?
Warren: He never rode that I know of. He went to many, many horse shows
that we used to have, particularly those close to Sacramento.
Schwartz: Was he a tennis player? How'd you get into tennis?
Warren: Through Maggie, Jim's wife. She was an excellent tennis player.
I believe she was state doubles' champ and had a national ranking.
She was very active and that's how we got interested.
One thing, we were exposed to a tremendous number of athletic
activities in our growing up. I think more so than most kids are.
There aren't really very many sports that we haven't participated
in, in some form or other, even on a limited basis. That to me
is very healthy. If all kids could have a chance to ride a horse a
few times and ski a couple of times and do different things, they
could find out what they could do best.
Fry: And this becomes a lifelong hobby.
Warren: But my dad never did a lot of sports himself that I can ever recall
Fry: You never went up to the snow, to Tahoe, to ski or anything, did
'Warren: Not with him. We used to go all the time when I was in high school.
They had buses going every weekend , and we used to go up Friday
night with a sleeping bag and sleep by the fire, at the Donner
Summit Lodge or wherever. We were the hippies of the 1950s.
Fry: You mean outdoors by the fire?
Warren: No, inside. They used to let you sleep right by the fire, in the
lounge of these big ski lodges, when there was only maybe two or
three of us. Herb Jackson, Bob Reed, and myself spent many a day
in the snow. But that pretty soon got old with the lodges, and
soon we couldn't do it any more. That's the only way that we could
justify the expense of going up, to go Friday night and sleep two
nights there. We took our food with us and we'd ski all day
Saturday and Sunday and then come back on the bus.
Fry: That way you didn't have to pay hardly anything.
Warren: All we had to do was pay for the tows.
Fry: You really had a good thing going there.
Warren: Yes, it worked pretty well.
Schwartz: The location of the mansion in the middle of town must have
affected the family style of living compared to Oakland, say.
Fry: You must have had a lot less privacy.
Warren: Oh, I'm sure we did. We probably had less privacy. But our days
were spent at school. We all went to school in the same general
area. In fact, all the schools connected — the fence lines connected,
Crocker Grammar School, [California] Junior High, and McClatchy
High. And the fence lines were all interconnected. So we just all
got off at one place and scattered to the winds, and then we could
all come back to the same place.
Fry: Oh, I see. And this was Pat Patterson taking you, right? The guard
and the chauffeur. Did your parents drive at all in Sacramento?
Warren: My parents never drove an automobile after they came to Sacramento.
I do have some memories of my mother and father driving a Lincoln
Zephyr and I believe a Chrysler Airflow when we lived in Oakland.
To my knowledge, my parents have never driven since.
Fry: Once they got to Sacramento.
Warren: I don't believe they've driven a car in Sacramento. Well, my dad
may have driven a few times in Sacramento, but it didn't take
long before he got away from that. He used to walk to work a
great deal of the time and also had available to him a state driver
who did most of the driving to and from work and other functions.
I suppose they could learn to drive again, but having not driven
since 1941, it would be very terrifying in today's traffic.
Fry: Yes, it would. But that's a lovely way to live.
Warren: Not to have to drive? Well, yes and no.
Fry: I'd like to be able to go out and step in my own chauffeur-driven
car or even in an elevated train.
Warren: Yes. That's one thing that, personally, I would have liked to
change about all the years my dad was in public office . The one
thing that I would like to change more than anything was that of
having a state driver.
Warren: I just didn't like it.
Did you feel conspicuous?
Yes, I just thought it was the one thing that set us apart from the
other kids .
Was he in uniform?
He wore a state officer's uniform, but we were in a private- appearing
automobile. But even so, every time you'd drive up to school, youM
get out, here's a policeman driving you to school. [Laughing] It's
either one of two things, you know: you're in trouble with the law,
or you're getting some kind of preferential treatment.
Did you feel then or do you feel now that this affected your
opportunity to buddy up with other kids in school?
Not usually. I'm sure that some kids cooled off because of that.
But once we were in school, I don't believe we really had a lot of
problems with that.
Schwartz: Did any kids ever make any distinction because you were a Republican
and they were Democrats?
Warren: No. Probably the most prominent one was during the election in
'48 — that was the one where there was probably more discussion than
in any other campaign my father was involved in.
Fry: You and your friends would have been thirteen or fourteen.
Warren: Yes. I was in junior high. I can recall very vividly that whole
process and my relief when the results came out the next day and
the Dewey-Warren ticket had lost. We were in San Francisco the night
that the returns started coming in. I believe it was the Sir Francis
But I also remember everybody going to bed, just like the story
says, feeling that a victory was in hand. But, as we all know, the
next morning the results showed something else. I do have a number
of recollections of my father not being quite as confident as a
number of other people on the staff were with regarcPto ~the election""
Did you get 'any cues from your father that it might be the other
No. Except he wasn't over-optimistic about it.
That's what I mean.
No, I can't ever recall him being over-optimistic. Certainly he was
optimistic that they could win, but he was never to the point of
saying, "It's all over," meaning that they had won.
You mean, in that election only? Or in any election?
In the 1948 election. I personally never did really get involved
in the other elections that he was involved in.
You mean at the time you felt that way? Or now?
All the time that he was running.
Oh, you didn't want him to get —
Most selfishly, I didn't want to leave Sacramento because I'd
built up some very strong friendships. I was at the age where I
was just getting ready to enter high school, and I had things
pretty well mapped out. I was going to play football with my
friends and do all those things together, and there was this
terrible possibility that we might have to go to Washington, D. C.,
and start over again. I personally did not want to do that, so it
was a relief when I found out that we would stay in Sacramento for
another period of time.
Do you remember anything about the campaign? Is that the
campaign when you rode the train from Seattle down the coast?
Yes. I'm sure that was the campaign. Maybe I was wrong about the
location. I think it might have been from Denver. We picked the
train up at Denver and then came into Sacramento. We stopped at all
those little towns.
Did you actually participate?
Did you get to wave at the crowd, or
Most of the time, I think, I was always in the caboose, where
everybody stayed. But occasionally we'd come out on the platform.
Some reporter would say, "Bring your family out here," or something
like this, so we'd all go out and stand on the platform. But that
was a barnstorming situation where you just stayed two or three
minutes, or five minutes at most, and were on our way. Sometimes
there 'd be a big organized crowd out there listening, and other
times there'd be just a handful of people.
Schwartz: Did you consider that fun?
Warren: I thought it was kind of interesting. But certainly not fun. It
only lasted two or three days, so the duration wasn't too long.
Fry: You didn't participate much in any other campaign?
Warren: None of the campaigns.
Fry: Did any of you go to the governors' conferences and the conventions
and so forth?
Warren: The three girls did, meaning my sisters, Virginia, Dotty, and
Honeybear. Almost every year they went to the governors'
convention, and they went to the national conventions, also. But
they used to go almost every place with my folks when they traveled.
Fry: Were they really that interested, or was it — ?
Warren: They were interested, because there was an awful lot of social
activity at those events. There were all kinds of parties, and
dancing, and different things to do. Sometimes there were escorts
provided, such as a Marine escort, or something to that effect, for
Fry: I wondered if there were other kids their age there.
Warren: Yes. But I don't believe there were a lot of other kids at these
conventions. They pretty much stayed with my folks and went to the
different activities they went to.
My Brother and I
Fry: Why didn't you boys go along?
Warren: I just didn't like it. [Laughing] My brother Earl and I used to go
down to Santa Monica, almost the day school was out, and spend most
of the summer months on the beach skin diving or surfing or something
to do with water sports.
Fry: I think Earl, Jr., told me that he even got a job once doing some
Warren: Yes. He had a business. He formed a business (a partnership, I
believe) with a Japanese individual who had some formula for
processing sea urchins. I ended up being one of the workers for
that venture for almost the entire summer. I can't recall ever
getting paid for it.
[Laughing] Maybe you'd better mention that to him. 1
I'm going to talk to him; [Laughter]
At any rate, it sounds like you lived a very different life from
your sisters who were back attending the parties around the
Oh, we did. Yes, we were always removed from that part of it.
Did you ever think that you would be in public life at all, or in
politics? Did you ever consider it?
No, never considered it.
Did you play football in high school in Sacramento? What about
your father's participation in that? Did he go to your games?
He went to probably two games a year. The timing was just never
right. I don't think he was able to arrange his schedule to meet
that of the football schedule. It was the same situation when I
played for the University of California at Davis Aggies. I believe
he saw one game in four years .
That was when you were at UC Davis.
Did he influence you in selecting which college to attend? Did
you consult with him, or how did you reach that decision?
I recall that I just made the decision to attend Davis based on my
interest in horses and animals. I felt that I might be able to get
into the cattle business if I got to an agricultural university.
Yes. Your brother Earl was interested in farming, too.
Yes. He was at Davis when I was also considering attending, but
since he was five years older than me, he was out by the time I was
ready to enter.
Was there a difference of four or five years between you and Earl?
Five years .
I see. So you'd visit him here at UC Davis when you were in high
Well, I'd always come over to Picnic Day. That was the biggest
event — really it was probably the biggest event of this valley,
Fry: I bet it still is, isn't it?
Warren: Well, for high schools. It used to be a very big high school event.
Every high school in Sacramento was invited. There aren't very
many now; there are three. So they were all invited, and everybody
would come over, and it was really a good event.
Fry: Earl, Jr., was in charge of one of those.
Warren: He was in charge — yes, one year or so. That was really the major
contact with the school.
III GROWING UP
Warren: When I graduated from high school, I was a mid-year student, and
so I came directly over here to Davis. In fact, I think I got out
on a Friday, or on a Thursday, and started school on Monday. As a
Fry: You didn't waste any time at all. In high school what had you been
interested in besides sports?
Warren: Well. There wasn't much, if I recall right, in high school. All
we did was try to get ready to go to college.
Fry: A general college prep course.
Warren: All you did was, you had to get the languages and the math, you
know, the required courses so you could get into college. So there
was no specialization whatsoever.
Fry: Were any one of these more interesting to you than others?
Warren: Oh, I think probably physiology was the most interesting course I
ever took in high school. It seemed to be more interesting to me
than some of the required courses.
Fry: What did you major in at Davis?
Warren: Well, I started out — I was here for half a year in animal husbandry.
And then I went to UCLA for a summer school and a semester.
Fry: That would be while the family was down there at the ranch?
Warren: In the summertime. In the summer they were there, and that was the
year that he was appointed to the court. In September of that year
he was appointed to the court, and that was the semester I started
at UCLA. I stayed at UCLA to get rid of some required courses. You
know, history and first year freshman courses.
So I stayed there a semester and was kind of swooped up with the
idea of being down by the beach all the time, and it was great to be
in Santa Monica. Then I went to UCLA and that ruined my whole idea
of going to college. So I came running back here as fast as I could.
[Laughing] So I came back up here right after that semester and then
I went through.
I switched to letters and science when I was a sophomore, and
I had what they called a group major in psychology and physical
education. They didn't have a major in either field at that time,
because their letters and science had just started here. So they
put two majors together, and they called it an individual group
That sounds more tailor-made.
Well, there were only about four of us that did that. We all went
in at the same time, and it worked out real well. What it amounted
to, we had to have almost the same number of units in each one of
those fields. I think it was thirty units at that time. They did
thirty units of psychology and thirty units of physical education.
That's a lot.
Anyway, it was a very interesting major,
relates to real estate.
I don't know how it
Fry: Were you interested in politics?
Warren: No. I didn't even take a political science course in all the time
I went to school.
Schwartz: Were you playing tennis at that time, when you came to college?
Warren: No, I played tennis at the Uplifters Ranch in Santa Monica, and the
only time I played was in the summertime. I took lessons from a
very good tennis pro, a woman, an older woman who must be about 95
now. I think she still plays. We played quite a bit in the
Your brother Earl said this ranch had been more of a club at one
time, and then it hit hard times during the Depression or something,
so then it was transformed into sort of a family place. And there
was a family friend who owned a cabin where you guys stayed. Who
Warren: It was a log cabin, owned by the Musgroves.
Fry: Oh, it was?!
Warren: Yes. A real log cabin. These great big logs,
I just can't understand why he didn't use it. He didn't use
this beautiful cabin. It was a handmade, custom-made cabin.
Everywhere you looked were all of these trophies: elk, moose, every
animal you could think of, and birds and everything. It was a
beautiful thing. Wish I had some pictures of it.
Hunting and Fishing Together
Did you ever go hunting with your dad?
We hunted every year.
Where did you go hunting?
We still do it. We hunt ducks in the wintertime, and then we used
to go over to the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands, which are the
chain of islands off the California coast there. We used to hunt
over there every summer.
What did you hunt there?
They have deer and elk, goats, sheep, wild boar, and quail. They're
all privately owned, and they're used for raising cattle. The only
thing that's on there is military; they have military bases on them.
Small, military installations for surveillance.
And they have hunting preserves?
No, the fellow that owned the island would take us over there. I
think they had nine fellows that worked there. They were just
regular old cowhands. One was a cook, and the other eight herded
the cattle all over the island, so we'd just get in a jeep and take
off and hunt. It was just like a wild preserve. The island must
be forty miles long and twenty miles wide. The animals were brought
in many hundreds of years back. They're just wild animals, but
they're just on this beautiful island.
Who went with you on these trips?
Warren: Well, let's see. There was Earl and myself and my dad. And Leo
Carrillo was one of the fellows that first started going with us
over on Santa Cruz Island. In fact, he may have made the first
contact for us to go there and hunt wild boar on Santa Cruz Island.
And then another close friend of Dad's, from Oxnard, Edwin Carty.
Some way or another we got going to the Santa Rosa Island, which was
owned by a fellow named Ed Vale.
Fry: And you still hunt?
Warren: We still hunt, but now it's pretty much confined to the ducks.
Fry: Where do you go for ducks?
Warren: We go to Colusa, or to Williams. Just north of the town of Williams
to Wallace Lynn's. You've probably got that name down.
Fry: Yes, I have the name, but I haven't talked to him yet. Is that his
Warren: That's his own. Yes. He lives in San Francisco. I think we've
hunted there since '42, '43, something like that. Every year.
Haven't missed a year.
Schwartz: Do you always come back with ducks?
Warren: Yes. Almost all the time. Dad's a remarkable shot, for a person
who only picks up a gun once or twice a year.
Fry: And he taught you kids to shoot?
Warren: He taught us how to shoot. Yes. We've been hunting since we were —
I think seven years old is when I started, and that was about the
age that Earl got started. Jim has never been much of a hunter.
Schwartz: How did your mother feel about your bringing back ducks and game
and all that? Did she do the cleaning of them?
Warren: We did the cleaning. We cleaned the ducks and picked them, and
she'd finish them off and cook them. She did all the cooking. But
we used everything we brought back.
Fry: Did you? Even the deer?
Warren: Yes. Well, the deer was always cut up right there where we shot it,
Where did your dad learn to hunt? In Bakersfield?
Warren: I don't think so. No. I'm not sure where he learned to hunt. He
always gets the biggest one, though, that's one thing for sure.
He always gets the biggest deer, the biggest fish, or —
Schwartz: Is it something about charisma? [Laughter]
Warren: It could be.' It could be! I don't know what it is, but he always
seems to end up with the biggest of the bunch.
Schwartz: Did he carry his share of the load, too?
Schwartz: I wonder how he learned how to dress a deer, and ducks and so on.
Fry: Maybe Leo Carrillo told him that.
Warren: He didn't. The boys did the cleaning.
Schwartz: Are you fishermen, too?
Warren: Yes. He still fishes in the summertime. He comes out and he and
Wally Lynn go fishing. Mostly for trout. We've been on a number
of trips together. That's one thing that I think we always make an
extra effort to do is to try to get together. The boys get
together as a family and go on a fishing trip or a hunting trip at
least once a year for a couple of holidays. That's the only way
you can ever get isolated enough to do any talking. Because
otherwise it's in a San Francisco hotel or something.
Fry: Is this where you really got your man-to-man talk? Hunting and
fishing trips .
Schwartz: What do you talk about?
Warren: Oh, he likes to talk about business.
Fry: You mean your business?
Warren: My business. He likes to talk about my business and what I'm doing
and what plans I have for expansion of my business. He never talks
about the court.
Fry: When Leo Carrillo would be with him, did they talk politics at all?
Warren: No. I don't think so. They just horsed around.
Fry: Was Leo Carrillo a kind of happy-go-lucky —
Warren: Yes. Oh yes. He was a real happy kind of a downy guy. You know.
Always horsing around. Always kidding everybody. And really it
wasn't in any way a business relationship.
Fry: I think he was on the state park commission.
Warren: Yes, he was on the park commission. I think he was active in
getting the Will Rogers Park in Santa Monica underway, and all that
beach front along there .
Fry: Was your father especially concerned about this land acquisition
Warren: Oh, I think he was pushing it.
Fry: He would have been quite familiar with the territory, having lived
there in the summers.
Warren: Yes. I'm sure that he was very much interested in getting the
beaches under the state, so we wouldn't lose them. He's always
had an interest in that.
Fry: What about islands like that? Would he like to see them at least
partially under public control?
Warren: Well, I don't know. I've never heard him comment about the islands
out there. They've always been under private ownership. There
hasn't been very much change in them in the last few years, and
Fry: It sounds like they still have their wildlife.
Warren: Yes. They're still very wild. They still bring the cattle in and
dump them out in the ocean and let them swim to shore. There's a
way of getting them on, back and forth.
Fry: Oh, to keep the island populated?
Warren: Well, no. They take all of the cattle out there for fattening. So
they take them out on large cattle boats and release them reasonably
close to shore, so they can swim to shore. That's how the cattle
get off and onto the island .
Fry: [Laughing] That's a long way from lassoing them with a rope, and
dragging them along the corral path. Is this where you developed
some of your interest in ranching?
Warren: Yes, that was part of it. Just being around animals a lot,
particularly around horses. My sister and I were around horses
all the time.
Fry: Which sister?
Fry: You were the two horse fiends?
Warren: We were the only two in the family that rode. Yes. We rode all
the time. We had our own horses, and we rode in horse shows all
over the state.
Fry: Are you able to have a horse here?
Warren: No. Only if we were further out in the country.
The other line of questioning that I haven't really gone into is
the media things and reading material that were available in the
governor's mansion that you remember seeing. I think before we
turned the tape recorder on, you mentioned you never had a television
in the governor's mansion, even though you were there until 1953.
Did you particularly notice what kind of reading material you had?
Well, it's a different life without a television set in the house.
Yes. It sure is.
We had the old standards. National Geographic, which we still
subscribe to now, and Reader's Digest, and those magazines —
Saturday Evening Post and Life and Time and Newsweek. Those are
the kind of magazines that used to be around the house all the time.
The radio: we really used the radio. I can recall the radio being
on all the time, particularly in the late evenings.
Was there a library that you went exploring around in?
Well, there was a library, but it was all full of legal books.
Volume after volume. It wasn't the kind of library with good
general reading literature. We were all pretty active physically
during school years, so that we weren't home until five or six
o'clock in the day.
Because you had football practice?
Yes. Because of that. And so, by the time dinner was over, it. was
getting reasonably close to the time to start doing some studying.
Fry: Right. Because you had a late dinner.
Schwartz: Did you have any rules about when the kids had to study, and whether
they could listen to the radio before they did their homework, and
that sort of thing?
Warren: No. That's one question we never had to ask. Occasionally my mom
or dad would ask, "Do you have your homework done?" But we never
had any strict rules about when the light goes out and what time
you go to bed and when you do your studying. It was taken for
granted that we were going to do these things. And they would get
done and you would do them at your own pace.
It's much the same as not being told or guided too much as to
what you might do in later life. You find out what you want to do,
and you do it, and nobody tries to over- influence you, only provide
Fry: Did you have a chance to talk over with your father as to what you
would major in in college, and what you thought you might go into
and so forth?
Warren: Yes, I had that opportunity on a number of occasions. That's
normally what we were talking about when we'd get on a one-to-one
Fry: Out on those islands during hunting trips?
Warren: Yes. What courses I was taking, and what courses I planned to take
next year, and what I had in mind for a future. Those are the times
when we talked. But there was never any indication that, or
implication that he would like to see me go into law, or follow
into what he was doing in any way.
Schwartz: When you weren't on these one-to-one relationships, hunting and so
on, did you ever have the feeling that he was preoccupied in his
thoughts so that there was no sense in talking to him? You know
how kids are today with that kind of an attitude.
Warren: Well, on occasions. I never had the feeling that I was being
disregarded in any way. I can remember talking to him late in the
evenings. We used to do that occasionally. He reads every single
night before falling to sleep. It usually had to do with history
of some sort. Dad is very interested in California history. All of
us experienced talking to him, and he would fall asleep while we
were talking to him. He may wake up twenty minutes later and
continue his conversation with us as if he had never gone to sleep.
I don't know how he did that, but it was just as if he had never
slept. He would just pick right up where the conversation left off.
Schwartz: Does this account for his great energy that he has now, his
ability to nap or what have you?
Fry: And even on those campaigns?
Warren. Yes. He's got a real good knack of relaxing and going to sleep
quickly. You know, when he's down, he's out; that type of thing.
And when he's up, he's moving about and intense on his task.
Fry: Did your dad bring work home while he was governor? Helen MacGregor
said that, while he was D.A. , sometimes he and she would have to go
work in his study because there were too many interruptions at the
office. She said she remembers a blonde head would come bobbing in
to ask Daddy a question, and he'd say, "Just wait. Wait till five
o'clock." Oscar Jahnsen, on the other hand, said he would just
never bring work home.
Warren: He seldom ever brought it home that I can recall. I can remember
him setting up — doing some work at home and using that as his office
occasionally, like anybody would if they wanted to really bail out of
their office and just go hide. They'd do it at home probably where
Fry: But once the kids were home from school and the family was there,
why, he probably —
Warren: Yes. He didn't bring home much. He did much more when he got to
the court. I think the demands for study, for just outright
research, were much greater in the court than they were when he was
Fry: Right. He had a big staff, and he somehow managed to get some very
knowledgeable people to perform tasks for him as governor.
Warren: Yes. He had Helen MacGregor, and she was worth several people,
I'm sure. She had tremendous ability.
Fry: Yes. She's worth several people right here on this project too,
I'll tell you that. She's marvelous.
Well, then, the other questions I have are miscellaneous. I suppose
you were in Cub Scouts or someone was in Cub Scouts, because I
picked up the note that your mother was a den mother at one time.
Was that for you or for Earl?
Warren: That must have been for Jim and Earl. I believe Jim and Earl were
Fry: That would have been in Oakland.
Warren: Yes. I believe that's when my mom was active in scouting, and also
when we got to Sacramento.
Fry: What about the role that Pat Patterson played? Was he more than
just a chauffeur for you kids?
Warren: Well, Pat wasn't the only one. There were a couple of others too.
Pat is a real great guy, and he was one of, probably, four officers
that were there .
Fry: You mean they rotated during the week?
Warren: They rotated. There were three shifts—three eight-hour shifts — and
then there was a relief and the relief worked into that schedule.
There were three of them that were there almost the entire time:
Pat Patterson, Paul Egbert, Jimmy Waters, and Archie Sparks.
These officers were important to all of us during our growth
years. They were real people we could talk to and horse around with
and yet permit them to retain their role. Pat — we probably kept our
contacts up better with Pat than anyone, because he was in the same
department I was in when I went into corrections work.
IV LATER EVENTS: 1958-1971
Father's and Son's Work in Corrections
Warren: He [Pat Patterson] became a parole officer shortly after I went to
work with the Department of Corrections. He's been active in
parole work and in correctional counseling.
Fry: Oh. I didn't know you were in corrections.
Warren: I was in prison for four years.
Fry: Oh, you were! [Laughter] Is that where you went, right out of
Warren: I went right out of college here to the Vacaville correctional
facility, as a trainee, as an intern. And then I went to the prison
at Soledad. We lived in Salinas and I worked in Soledad Prison for
four years. Then I entered administration, and that was enough to
run me out of state service work. Too much paper work — not enough
Fry: Before that you had been doing what sort of work? Work that related
more directly to the men?
Warren: In the prison? Yes, I ran the physical education program in the
Fry: Why did you choose this?
Warren: Well, I was working for a psychologist named Paul Dempsey on the
UCD campus part-time, who was doing some counseling in Vacaville,
and he said, "I hear they have a job down there." I was a senior;
I had one semester to go. He suggested, "You might be interested
in going down and trying it for a semester and see what you think."
So I tried it, and I really got enthused about the work. So I
Warren: applied for and received a full-time physical education and
recreation director position for Soledad Prison.
Fry: I'm interested in what you say about administration, because one
of the things that your dad had worked hard to reform in the state
is the administration of prisons.
Warren: The present California system is most likely the best in the world.
And the people in it are excellent. 1 just can't stand to be
indoors, and I can't stand to process paper. When I went into it,
I was in personnel and budget work in the department, and it just
drove me out of my mind.
Fry: That's pretty different.
Warren: You work with people and then turn around and next thing you know
you're just working with paper.
Fry: It was probably a promotion.
Warren: Oh, yes. It was a promotion.
Fry: This is the problem. If you get a higher position, then it's not
fun any more.
Warren: Oh, it was a good job. It was a promotion, and it was a step that
I had to take if I ever wanted to go any higher in the department,
but if that was my future in the department, I wasn't interested in
that part of it.
Fry: When was that?
Warren: Let's see — '58 to '62 was when I was at Soledad, and then in early
'63 I came up to Sacramento for three years. We had been living
in Davis since '62, so I gradually prepared myself for the real
estate field which I entered in 1966.
Fry: I just wondered if at the time you were in corrections, it was
still enough like the system that your dad had set up that you had
a chance to evaluate it.
Warren: It was very much a continuation of everything that he had hoped for
in the prison system. The same man that he had appointed —
Fry: Richard McGee?
Warren: McGee. Dad brought McGee in to set up the system and McGee was in
charge of the Agency. He retired. The year I left was McGee 's
last year as agency administrator. Walter Dunbar and his staff were
also very much responsible for the department's progress.
Fry: When McGee retired, were there any changes made?
Warren: Well, the changes were made when Reagan came in.
Fry: Yes. But between '58 and '66, at any rate, McGee 's policies you
feel were continued then until Reagan came in?
Warren: Yes. They were followed right through. He was the head man and he
ran the whole system in California.
Fry: Mr. Schwartz may interview McGee. We're just beginning our series
on the corrections system.
Warren: Yes. That's an excellent person to talk to, in terms of how my
dad was able to get that change through the legislature.
Fry: You mean the timing?
Warren: The timing, with the problem of all the trusties up at Folsom being
turned loose on the weekends to go to San Francisco to live with
their girl friends and the like. It was beautiful the way it
worked out. With the big problems they had, the timing couldn't
have been better to step in and re-do the whole prison system.
Fry: That's interesting that you went into it. I hope that we can call
upon you for some advice then, as we get deeper into corrections.
Warren: Heman Stark is retired also. He headed the youth correctional
Changing Political Tides
Fry: I have one more question. When you were in the governor's mansion,
were there any incidents of political kooks there trying to get in
or get at your father, that you were aware of?
Warren: No. I don't recall any incidents at all, where somebody tried to
get into the house. I can think of times when people wanted to talk
to him, and they were very mad and they wanted to express themselves .
And they wanted to talk to him right now, so they'd come in the
mansion, come in through the gate, and they wanted some action right
now. But there was never any group activity.
Fry: They would meet Pat Patterson or one of the other officers?
R . Warren
Would any of your teachers in high school or college ever say
anything to you, expressing something that they thought would get
back to him —
[Laughing] "Tell your father to vote for that bill!"
— or "I disagree with him here, or there," or "I think it's great,"
and that sort of thing?
No, not in school. I got it more from law enforcement, when I was
working in the prison system. For experience when I was working in
administration, I had a group of parolees that I worked with and I
supervised their casework at night.
I took a lot of heat from the police. That was about the time
when all the court decisions on human rights were being made, and
so I took quite a bit. I still do.
The Miranda —
The Miranda decision, and all of those. I took a lot of criticism
for that. They'd fire it at me hoping that maybe I would respond
to it. I'm not my dad. It was his decision.
Do you think it affects your business in any way?
Now? That's something that's hard to measure. I really don't know.
If people don' t do business with me because of my dad, then I'm not
really interested in doing business with them anyway.
Well, this is my final question. In the development of your own
political viewpoint, did you kind of absorb by osmosis your dad's —
either as a starting point, or as something to hold on to?
Well, only from what I've seen take place in the state,
we never discussed politics in our family.
By politics, what do you mean? Parties? Or do you mean —
We never discussed the different philosophies of politics, Democrats
versus Republicans, the right wing, etc. There wasn't really a
right wing and there wasn't really a left wing when my dad was active
in the governorship. There was a Democratic party and a Republican
party, and in a lot of respects they were the same. I think we
formed our own opinions about politics, just living in the state.
I would agree with the progressive attitude that my dad had about
government in the state of California and all the things that he
initiated. I would hope that those things continue, but there
were also areas where I have reservations, just like a lot of other
people do, about some of the things that have taken place.
Taken place after your dad left?
After he left, and how far these were really intended to go.
Like what? The health insurance?
Oh, the welfare system in general. How far is it really going to go,
the way it's set up, and whether his intention, had he been governor
continuously, whether he would have allowed it to go this far.
Dad never said where he thought it would go. But I know he's
a firm believer in free enterprise. And if you're a strong believer
in free enterprise, you can't be overly strong in the area of
welfare, because they don't always work together.
Or the reverse tax, or whatever?
Oh, you mean the negative income tax, and the basic income for
everybody in the country, the guaranteed income? Those things are
Yes. And they're coming from people like Senator Barry Goldwater,
some that you wouldn't expect it to. It doesn't seem to be defined
by party lines .
I was wondering if you, like Earl, Jr., did for quite a
while, at least, associate pretty much all of your dad's
philosophy, and all the reforms he was able to bring, with the
Republican party up to a point, and then change over to the
Democratic party , because that seemed to have more things in line
with his ideas than the Republican party?
I am a Republican,
No need to change. I vote like I want, not by
Did you associate these things with the Republican party, or did you
not have a party affiliation connected with —
I never did see a great deal of difference, personally, in the
parties, particularly when there was cross-filing. People had the
opportunity to go where they wanted to, but you still had the
party system for the selection of candidates. As soon as they did
away with that , I think you can see a real polarization of
parties, and now there really isn't a middle ground any more.
There's some very strong right-wing Republicans, and many very
liberal Democrats. Nobody seems to have a middle-of-the-road
approach. Earl, Jr., may have gone that direction if he had gone
Fry: Because he was so deeply involved in it you mean, or because it was
better for him to be a Democrat?
Warren: It was better. He was an appointee, at one time, of Governor Brown,
and he was Brown's campaign chairman. You know, he was very active
in politics, and so I guess it was advantageous or to his liking to
switch his party. But I don't know as it does any good to switch
your party, because some day it will just turn around on you and
you'll [laughing] have to switch back again!
Fry: Parties keep moving out from under you.
Warren: It's just a bunch of labels, that's all.
Fry: Yes. Hiram Johnson had that problem too.
The Supreme Court Years; President Kennedy
Fry: One thing in Washington that I would like you to comment on: was
your dad very close to Kennedy?
Warren: I'm sure he was.
Fry: Why do you say that?
Warren: I think that the assassination of Kennedy probably brought as much
a change in anything that's happened to him that I've ever seen.
As an individual. Both to him and to my mother. I think the assas
sination was just unbelievable to both. It changed their whole —
it changed them. It was just a major blow to them that that could
happen in the United States. Because it certainly had never
happened in his lifetime, and the fact that it happened to somebody
that he was very close to. He was invited by Kennedy to many, many
of the functions at the White House.
And then to have to head the commission was even worse. That
commission did more to age him than anything I've ever seen. He's
recovered from it, though. I think he's rejuvenated himself. But
by the time that commission report was over, he was exhausted and
aged. He had to sit through all those commission hearings and,
word for word, listen to what was being said. That's every piece
of testimony that was given at those hearings. And to have to sit
through that detail about somebody that you really were fond of
must have been a taxing experience.
Schwartz: In the same vein, I just wonder, did he ever talk with you about
the "Impeach Earl Warren" signs and movement, and all that sort of
Warren: He just laughs them off. He has a very good sense of humor about
those things. He knows that people disagree with him. He doesn't
resent it because they disagree with him.
Fry: The right-wing forces, which were led by Tom Werdel, I think,
in the '52 election, were never a terribly big threat to him.
Politically he really didn't worry much about them. Is that the
way you understand it?
Warren: Yes. I don't think he had to worry too much about that. Of course,
he was always able to cross-file, which was a decided advantage to
When he was on the Supreme Court, the right wing was busy in the
South. A lot of hostile signs went up about him because of the
Brown decision. When you told me that his work on the Kennedy
assassination really changed him, I wondered if you meant that it
had changed this attitude of his to shrug off any possibility of
his own assassination. If a nut was going to get you, he was
going to get you, and he didn't worry about it. Did this cause him
to worry any for his own sake?
No. I don't think it worried him. It may have worried Mom some,
but it didn't worry him. At least he's never taken any undue
cautions or made mention of it.
He didn't tighten his security?
He didn't tighten his security. As far as I know he didn't have
any security. I would imagine there must have been some communication
with the FBI when he was out in California and around, and when he
was in the vicinity, but as far as I know he didn't have any full
surveillance on him.
Did he go into the South very much after he got on the Supreme Court?
Not much, to my knowledge. I think he went down mostly for the
graduation ceremonies and things of that nature.
He always avoided talking about the court, and I think that's
part of the reason why he didn't. His exposure wasn't near as
great when he was on the court as it was when he was governor,
because he just refused to discuss the court's business in public.
When they would start talking about the cases, he just wouldn't
talk about them. And pretty soon the press got the message.
Schwartz: The boys never wanted to be involved in your father's political
activities, but you obviously enjoyed hunting and fishing with him.
Was that something that you set up in advance? You'd set a date
for, and look forward to, or did it happen spontaneously each year?
Warren: It always happens spontaneously, and it seems like it always comes
at a very difficult time. You know, Dad will call up and he'll say,
"Can you go hunting tomorrow? I've got a chance to go to Mexico,
and there's two seats left. Can you go?" And you have to decide
Schwartz: I'm interested in the hunting and fishing together. This sounds
like a rather frantic experience. But what about way back, when you
first started, when you were small kids? You learned how to hunt
and fish through him. Was it still frantic, even at that time, or
did he set a time?
Warren: Oh, it was usually a little bit more planned in the summertime. We'd
know a few weeks in advance that we were going to go.
Schwartz: Did he ever change it, and say, "I'm sorry, we can't go now"?
Warren: No. He was usually pretty good. I don't recall being disappointed
too many times regarding cancellation.
Schwartz: If he did cancel out, then you'd do it later?
Warren: Then we'd do it later on, yes. Usually the cancel-out was not his
fault, but something else happened. I think he makes an extra
effort to make the fishing trips and the hunting trips go.
Earl Warren as Grandfather
Schwartz: I have one final question. You talked about what impresses me as a
very fine relationship between father and children. Do you raise
your family the same way?
Warren: Yes. I think so. I do mine. I raise them very much the same way.
At least I hope I am. We haven't had — in my relationship with my
parents — very many crises. If there is, it's been something that's
involved all of us. A health thing, like my sister, or something
Schwartz: Are there things that you've decided, like, "Well, one thing that
I'm going to be sure about when I'm a father, I'm going to do this,"
or "not do that because my experience has been unhappy" (or a very
The only thing I can say is that
expectations to them, and that as
we're a family unit, and I'm the
and that's our relationship with
we're helping them grow up (and I
grow) . It sounds kind of overly
set anything in my mind that says
door if they have their hair any
length" or those kind of things .
I hope to convey to my children my
long as they're in this house,
father and Carolyn's the mother,
them. They're growing up, and
might add they're helping me to
simplified, but I don't think I've
Nobody's going to walk in my
longer than a certain acceptable
I think times are changing very rapidly, but the important
thing is that the family stays as a unit. And if they can stay as
a unit with all the rest of the stuff that's going on, you've still
got a chance with them.
Your father seems to be coming out publicly and giving a great deal
of support now to the younger generation during this time when we
have the generation gap so wide, and in a number of cases so
senseless. But he, in his speeches and so forth, seems to feel that
it is in the youth that further reforms can be made.
Now, these are his public speeches. Do you pick up the same thing?
Yes, very much so. He's a believer in progress, and very much
How is his relationship with his grandchildren? Have you read that
letter that John Weaver published from one of the grandsons? It was
in the L. A. Times.
Yes. This is strictly my observation. It's personally warm, but
it's very distant. I'm sure that he feels very strongly about all
of them, but there are so darned many of them. And the only time
they ever get together is when they're all there. So we all get
together, and there are sixteen grandchildren or whatever it is,
and he really can never establish any close personal relationship
with any one. He has a hard enough time remembering their names.
He sees them once a year, and "Who's Leslie, and who's Linda, and
who's so-and-so?" It's warm, but it's really very distant in
One of the interesting things is that Mom and Dad have taken
the grandchildren one at a time — as the kids get old enough they've
taken them back to Washington and let them stay there for a week or
ten days. They get to know that one grandchild for that period of
time, and they get to go around and see all the sights of Washington,
D. C. If there's going to be a relationship they're going to
establish it there. My oldest one is just at the point where she'll
be going in the next couple of years.
Fry: When you've got that many grandkids, to get them back across the
country for two weeks must be quite an effort. Your father's
schedule is still kind of on the incredible side!
Warren: He's still pretty busy.
Fry: Well, I do thank you for letting us come in and ask you all these
Final Typist: Lee Steinback
INDEX - Robert Warren
Carrillo, Leo, 26-28
Carty, Edwin, 26
corrections administration reform, 33-35
Del Paso Country Club, Sacramento, 15
Dempsey, Paul, 33
Department of Corrections, 33
Dunbar, Walter, 34
election campaigns :
1948 presidential and Warren's family, 18-20
governor's mansion, Sacramento, 14-15, 17, 35
Jackson, Herb, 16
Kennedy , John F . :
and Warren, 38
assasination of, 38
Lynn, Wallace, 26-27
MacGregor, Helen, 31
McGee, Richard, 34
Musgrove family, 25
Patterson, Pat, 17, 32-33, 35
Reed, Bob, 16
Warren family practices, 13-14
Tuesday Club, Sacramento, 13
Vale, Ed, 26
family life, 1, passim
while DA, 1-5
while Attorney General, 5
while governor, 5, 11-18, 20-21
and his campaigns, 18-20
and corrections reform, 34-35
and sports, 7-8, 15-16, 21, 23, 25-26, 40
philosophy of, 9, 36-37
and religion, 13-14
and John F. Kennedy, 38
and friends, 25-28
and Kennedy's assasination, 38
Warren, Earl, Jr., 7, 20, 22, 26, 37-38
Warren, James, 7, 14, 16, 26
Warren, Nina, 5-8, 12-13, 31, 39
and father's campaigns, 18-20
college, 21-24, 30
hunting and fishing with his father, 25-29, 40
career in corrections, 33-36
and father's cases, 36
and politics, 36-37, 40
Warren family, 1, passim
while Warren was DA, 1-10, 31
while Warren was governor, 11-18, 20-21, 29-30, 31
and Warren's campaigns, 18-20
and Warren as Chief Justice, 36, 39
religious practices, 13
and sports, 7-8, 15-16, 21, 23, 25-26, 40
and Warren's cases, 36
Amelia R. Fry
Graduated from the University of Oklahoma, B.A. in
psychology and English, M.A. in educational psychology
and English, University of Illinois; additional work,
University of Chicago, California State University
Instructor, freshman English at University of Illinois
and at Hiram College. Reporter, suburban daily newspaper,
Interviewer, Regional Oral History Office, 1959 — ;
conducted interview series on University history,
woman suffrage, the history of conservation and forestry,
public administration and politics. Director, Earl
Warren Era Oral History Project, documenting govern
mental/political history of California 1925-1953;
director, Goodwin Knight-Edmund G. Brown Era Project.
Author of articles in professional and popular journals;
instructor, summer Oral History Institute, University of
Vermont, 1975, 1976, and oral history workshops for
Oral History Association and historical agencies;
consultant to other oral history projects; oral history
editor, Journal of Library History, 1969-1974; secretary,
the Oral History Association, 1970-1973.
Miriam Feingold Stein
B.A., Swarthmore College, 1963, with major in history
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1966, in American
history; research assistant - Civil War and Reconstruc
Ph.D. , University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976, in American
history, with minor field in criminology. Dissertation,
based in part on oral history material, entitled "The
King-Ramsay-Conner Case: Labor, Radicalism, and the
Law in California, 1936-1941."
Field services and oral history for the State Historical
Society of Wisconsin, 1966-1967.
Instructor: American history, women's history, and
oral history at Bay Area colleges, 1970 to present.
Leader: workshops on oral history, using oral history
as teaching tool, 1973 to present.
Interviewer-editor for Regional Oral History Office,
1969 to present, specializing in law enforcement and
corrections, labor history, and local political history.